Onions – Those to Enjoy as First Fruits and Those to Store

Every since I can remember I’ve always been anxious to partake of first fruits – no matter what the crop. In the case of onions – you really get two first fruits.  Number #1 is spring onions.  And the other first fruit would be a mature onion fresh from the ground.

It’s true that some onions can last through the winter. But cured and stored onions will never be able to hold a candle to those first ones gathered and enjoyed with delight.  Onions become stronger as they age.  The sweetness of “sweet” onions is not long lived.

First fruits should be and usually are enjoyed “ceremonially and with great fanfare” to use one of my reader’s words.

Only for cooking!?

That same reader and her husband who have been thrilled to have their first-ever bountiful harvest of onions by following my instructions — are in the process of curing their onions.  I was very surprised to find out in an email conversation they had not yet tasted their onions! She wrote, “Usually the only way we eat onions is cooked in sauces.—-we tend to only think of onions as cooking ingredients.”

Beyond My Comprehension

It’s almost beyond my comprehension that anyone who grows onions could miss out on the joy and sweetness that comes with raw “new” onions — especially the white ones — which in most cases are the sweetest.  So I thought — in case you are one of those — who have missed this delight — I’d better tell you in a post what you are missing.

Different Onions

There are different kinds of onions.  Red, white and yellow.  All of them will be at their very best when they first come out of the ground. But some are sweeter than others.  My white Super Star onions are my sweetest onions. But I’ve grown Red Zeppelin that rivaled it in sweetness.

Super Stars are Definitely Super Stars!

My white Super Stars are juicy like an apple and sweet as can be with no bitterness and no pungency.  Just juicy, delicious and crisp.  They’re out of this world in a salad. If you’re only use to store-bought onions when you try your first new-straight-from-the garden onion — you won’t even think it’s an onion!

Another reader — who also for the first time this year had a great onion crop —- did not use any of her onions when they were spring onion size. (Sad that she missed out on that.)  But when her Super Stars were mature she wrote to me expressing her delight.  They had one for dinner that night and she wrote saying, “They’re so sweet!  YUMMMYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!”

KNOW THIS: You will NEVER buy an onion like this in a big box store!  And that’s a fact!

Super Stars – fresh from the garden – June 24

Comparing Super Star to 1015Y Super Sweet

My 1015Y Super Sweet is a yellow onion.  When you put a piece of this fresh from the ground onion in your mouth you’ll think its sugar coated and sweeter than Super Star — but by the time you swallow you’ll get just a hint of “onion hotness”. (This is a short day onion grown only in southern states — but since Virginia is in the intermediate area <middle of the country> I do well with all types of onions.)

Now here’s the important part — so listen up:  The sweeter the onion the less time they’ll store.  They’re treats of the season.  You will not be able to carry them through late fall and winter. White onions are the ones I use first, because they’re the ones that won’t last. My yellow sweet ones are used next. (Both varieties are said to only last 2 months, but I can get some of mine to last 3 or 4 months tops.)

Onions for the Winter

If you want onions that will last through the winter and into next spring try growing Copra (a yellow onion) as one of your varieties. Readers in southern states won’t have enough daylight hours to grow this onion, but if you live in the North or middle of the country – like Virginia — you’ll be successful.

You Have a Garden – Grow variety

Forty springs — and even eighty springs is little time.  There are so many wonderful onions to grow.  I would never limit myself to just one. I suggest growing at least one white, one yellow and one red. Savor the sweet onions while they last — and if you can —  grow Copra as your onion to take you through the winter.

Final Thought

Please don’t miss out on one of the great treats of the growing season —- a sweet onion — either spring onion size — or fully mature and fresh from the garden!


Related Posts:

Onions – Tip – What to Do with the Small Ones

Onions Plants – A Bonus Can be Green onions in Winter

Onions – Why Grow A Lot?

Onions – Starting from Seed is Easy and Economical

Onion Sets – What You Need to Know to Get Better Results

Growing Onions

Bunching Onions – A Perennial Scallion Patch

Onions – More Reasons to Plant

How to Have Garden Onions April thru January

Onion Trivia


Organic Gardening is easy, efficient and effective — and it’s a lot healthier.


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  • Boy, do we have onions this year! I can’t thank you enough, Theresa, for your advice. This is the first time we’ve ever harvested large, delicious, sweet onions! We grew 2 varieties, Red Candy and White Candy. I supposed they won’t keep long since they are so sweet so I’ve been trying to think of ways to preserve them. I served and then canned French onion soup–hope it’s good. Also, I caramelized onions and froze them in patties in the freezer. Do you have other suggestions for preserving those we won’t use in 2-3 months?



    PS Really, you should be publishing your onion advice in a pamphlet. I’ve never seen advice like yours anywhere else.

  • Thank you Gayle! I appreciated your PS. My advice is very unconventional, but as you know it works. Another reader, had followed the County Extension Office’s advice. She wrote to me and said, “Theresa – without your information we would never have had this harvest – certainly not by following the County Extension’s advice – what is wrong with those people – chemicals and outdated advice!!”

    And I’ve thought of doing a pamphlet. May happen. We’ll see.

    Just want to mention that I grew Candy (White Candy) for almost 20 years, but will not grow it anymore since it is now owned by Monsanto and I don’t want to support them at all. I now grow Super Star which is absolutely delicious and perfectly satisfactory replacement for the Candy.

    If you find that you won’t be able to use all your fresh onions before they give up on you, I would just rough chop and freeze. Either put in small freezer bags or freeze on a flat cookie sheet and then put in a big freezer bag. Perfect for soups and cooking all winter.

    Your idea with the patties sound great. and the French onion soup sounded delicious. What a good thing to have on hand in the middle of winter.

    I freeze my onion burgers (recipe on site). When they thaw they get a little watery so I cook them just before they thaw all the way. Not a 100% satisfactory — but when I’m starved for onions they’re great.

    I have fresh onions almost all the way through the winter and into spring. Copra is a must have to get through the winter. It would grow well for you too Gayle. Also, in future posts I’ll tell about multipliers — for fresh onion use all the way through until you get spring onions next year.

    Thanks again for letting me know of your success! Really glad I could help.

  • Theresa, We tried some of each of our onions fresh, but we really had trouble eating them raw in salads etc. The closest we can get is to marinade them in lemon juice for a few minutes to temper (what to us) is a really strong taste. Still, we are delighted to have full sized onions, and we will definitely use them all. The back bedroom has become the ‘onion room’ for now as they cure in there.

  • So sorry to hear that Sandra! I think marinating in lemon juice for a few minutes won’t harm any antioxidant benefits.

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