Lots of shallots: why do spring onions come in such big bunches – and how can I use them all?

A purchase of a bouquet of fresh spring onions (sometimes called shallots – we’ll get to this later) is often an effort to beat time. The sprigs are large, and yet many recipes only require a sprig or two.

If you’ve ever thought about why spring onions are sold in such big bunches, the reason has something to do with two factors that determine the ideal dimension of the spring onion and the size of a hand for an adult.

A thin spring onion is a tender one and is sweet and fragrant, with only a minimal spice. Contrast this with a large spring onion that has no scent, but it’s very spicy.

Based on Thanh Truong, who is a Melbourne fruiterer, also known on the internet as Fruit Nerd, the growers have discovered that onions reach the Goldilocks point fresh, sweet, and spicy at 8mm diameter. “Too small and it’s like a chive, and too big and it’s halfway to being a leek,” Truong says. Truong.

To achieve this ideal diameter, the spring onions have to be planted in a way that there is enough space between them for growth to 8mm.

But what happens to the plentiful assortment of spring onions? Spring onions are picked by hand. The variety you see in the markets and the supermarket shelves is the result of a single thumb’s worth of spring onion being pulled out of the ground and tied with an elastic band.

Make sure you know your onion! Spring onions vs. shallots

The location you reside depends on where you live in Australia. The tall, green alliums are referred to under different names.

The true Spring onions ( Allium fistulosum) are picked with around 40cm of leaves that are green and slightly larger bulbs, but as per Onions Australia, the onions are usually advertised by the name of “shallots” in New South Wales however, Victorians and Tasmanians use them under their actual name.

“True” shallots ( Allium cepa, Aggregum), On the contrary, are cultivated to produce bulbs only. They are also referred to as shallots.

Truong has often wondered what the reason is. Truong’s only theory is that a few time ago, the seeds were offered to growers in each area, and that’s the way they were labeled.

No matter what you name, the methods to reap the maximum benefits of these freshly harvested bunches do not change.

Step one: Store them properly

To prolong the shelf-life that spring onions have, Elliott-Howery, co-author of Food-Saver’s A-Z, suggests covering them with a fresh tea towel before placing them in an airtight container, such as a calico bag or recyclable plastic bag before they are put in the fridge.

“If in a few days you see one that’s starting to get a bit slimy, remove it,” she advises. “The slime will spread to the rest of the shallots.”

Step two: prepare more than one dish

“Don’t just buy a bunch because one recipe says to garnish with them,” Elliott-Howery suggests. “You must think and say, ‘All right. What else do we want to eat that week?” She usually plans three meals that require spring onions, be it steaming fish, omelets, or spring onion pancakes.

For the writer, chef, and instructor at the cooking school Tony Tan, living the spring-onion lifestyle means knowing precisely the best way to prepare every part of the plant.

“The tips of spring onions can look a bit ratty, and I use those to make either chicken stock or stock with pork bones,” he states. “The green parts I usually use for garnishing or stir-frying.”

Tan claims that spring onions are, along with ginger and garlic, the holy trio in Chinese cooking. The white part of spring onion is typically utilized with garlic and ginger as a base for stir-fries. Depending on the time you add the spring onions, you’ll have a different flavor. To give a smokey sweetness, Tan scorches them in the wok before beginning the stir-fry. For a more vegetal taste, spring onion Tan will be included in the final stage.

Also, he uses the white portion of the spring onion to substitute for onions. This is logical and is especially so when you think about the fact that in Cantonese, spring onion refers to Cong (Chong), while onion refers to Yang Cong (yeung cong), which translates to “western spring onion.”

Elliott-Howery is also a big fan of using the white portion from the spring onion in lieu of onions. “You could put it in the spaghetti bolognese … no one’s going to know,” she claims.

Step 3: Make spring-onion oil

Spring-onion oil is a practical and delicious method of using the entire amount of onions. “It doesn’t even matter if they’re a bit wilted,” Elliott-Howery declares.

In her recipe, she chops spring onions as thinly as you are annoyed and then grates a bit of ginger. In a pan of frying, prepare a large volume of non-stick oil (such as sunflower oil or grapeseed) to medium-low heat. Add spring onions, ginger, and plenty of salt. Slowly cook for around five minutes, then transfer to a jar or bowl and stir in a little sesame oil. It can be stored for up to one week in the refrigerator inside an airtight container. Elliott-Howery loves serving it with rice that has been steamed and fried eggs or with grilled tofu or chicken.

Truong’s recipe is quicker and simpler: he pours heated neutral oil onto the chopped spring onions and then serves them with Com the team (Vietnamese broken rice) or banh hoi (steamed vermicelli bundles). “It’s an amazing transformation. It transforms something spicy to sweet using just the heat of your body,” he says. “It’s a wonder of nature.”

Step four: re-grow them.

This plethora of spring onions could seem endless. Therefore, you could take advantage of the infinite spring onions and (re)grow the plants inside your kitchen. Cut off the green stalks, leaving only the white portions of the onion, as well as the roots. Place the seeds into the jar, immerse them in clean water, and observe them grow in a sunny area on the windowsill. Take the stalks out when you require them, and ensure you change the water each day to ensure that slime doesn’t get in the way.

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