Green Onions and Scallions: picking, selecting, storing

20 Oct 2013 08.56 am by Renny Wijeyamohan

Green onions, also known as scallions or spring onions, are a root vegetable that belongs to the onion family. Unlike other inhabitants of this family, green onions are not harvested for their fleshy bulb. Instead, growers prefer their aromatic leafy stalks to add flavour to dishes. Green onions contain more antioxidants than are found in onions and shallots because they’re an edible leafy green. They’re extremely low in calories and are a good source of Vitamins A, C, K, dietary fiber and Folic Acid.


Picking green onions

You can start to pick your green onions when the leafy green stalks are between 13 centimetres in height (approx 5 inches) although some people wait until they’re a little taller – around 20-30 centimetres (approx 8-12 inches) to obtain a larger, more flavoursome stalk. Remember green onions are harvested prior to a bulb developing so the stalks should be green and pointing straight when they’re ready. Loosen the soil with a fork or trowel prior to picking. Then grasp each green onion about 5 centimetres (approx 2 inches) above the soil and pull up gently. It should shake loose from the soil fairly easily. The longer you leave the plant in the ground, the stronger and more onion-like the taste becomes, so try tasting your produce at various harvest times to see which taste you prefer.


Selecting green onions

When selecting green onions from your local supermarket or grocery store watch out for those with crisp, green leafy stalks. The stalk tube should be a deep green colour, around the thickness of a pencil and feel hollow and light.  Green onions should have a fresh onion-like aroma. If your green onions feel soft, appear yellow, brown or wilted or just smell “off” – chances are they’re past their prime and should be discarded.


Storing green onions

Green onions won’t last well outside the refrigerator or freezer, so use them as soon as possible once harvested. If you’d like to keep the bunch a little longer, wrap it in paper towel or a damp tea towel and place it in the refrigerator. It should last around 7-10 days. Freezing green onions is a good idea – usually because it’s too hard to get through a whole bunch in a week! Simply dice them up, wrap them in paper towel and place them in a plastic bag. They’ll stay good for around 12 months.


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