Today, I have a million things to do, and I’m starting with the easy stuff first. If you are a regular reader, you may recall that I planted a BUNCH of onions (and by that, I actually mean many, many bunches of onions) in the spring. Me and my “garden angel” – a neighbor and friend who helped me plant this year – planted 360 onion sets in April and last month, my husband and I harvested them. First of all – remember this name. They’re so good, I’m almost afraid to share this because if I try to order in the spring and they’ve run out because more new people have ordered from them, I’m going to regret this. My onion supplier is Dixondale Farms in Texas. I know I posted that in an earlier blog, but it’s worth repeating. The service is fantastic, the prices are great, and the onions are amazing. The scary part is that the more bunches (5 dozen to a bunch) you order, the cheaper they are per bunch, and shipping is included.
Sure, you can buy onions in the hardware store or local lawn and garden store, but most times, you have no idea which variety you are buying, and variety makes a HUGE difference in your outcome. You see, onions are pretty simple, except when they’re complicated. When they get complicated, it’s because of “day length” – the number of hours of daylight in your area. If you’re aware of the whole “days get longer in summer” concept, this makes perfect sense. Certain varieties of onions grow better where there are hotter temperatures and more hours of daylight, and some don’t. This is why people who live in North Dakota have to plant different varieties than people who live in Texas or Florida. Day length affects a lot of food crops, including peaches, which we can talk about later. I’m still recovering from last night’s peach processing, so I don’t want to talk about that right now… it makes my back hurt.
Anyway, Dixondale has made ordering from them so easy it’s scary, in fact, I told my husband last night that I’m thinking of increasing my onion area next spring and ordering about 600 sets. He didn’t even blink. It was he, after all, who told me that the 360 we ordered this year wasn’t enough. We eat a lot of onions. In fact, as I write this, I think 600 might not be enough.
Back to day length for a moment: I live in South Central Kansas in zone 6b, which means I am in the “intermediate” area for onions. Varieties that are bred for North Dakota or Florida will not grow well here. Who knew onions would be so picky?
This year, we planted these varieties: Candy (yellow), Red Candy Apple (red), and Super Star (white). I found that the Candy was the absolute best, some of them 5 or 6 inches across, firm, beautiful, and delicious. Most were in the 3 to 4 inch range, which is what I really like (easier to cut). They are really impressive onions. The Red Candy Apple were great if we used them right away, but they didn’t keep at all. Maybe it was the way I cured them after harvest, but we lost a lot of the smaller ones to rot before we could process them. The Super Star are good, but not fabulous. Next year, I’m planting all Candy, and I’m devoting an entire 32 x 4 foot bed to them. I’ve already got it planned.
So, after harvesting, what to do with them? This goes back to the “easy” part. While I’m still hurting from doing the peaches last night, I’m going to give myself a break and process most of my onions this morning. I have a bushel of pears looming over me, but they can wait until tomorrow. Onions are easy – clean, peel, slice, bag, label, freeze. There is absolutely no need to blanch onions. You could saute them if you wanted, and I have a friend who sautes them with sliced green peppers and bags them for stir fries, soups, casseroles, etc., and I may do that with some (my green peppers have loved the horribly hot weather and are very prolific this year), but you can’t beat just freezing a bag of onions and calling it done. There are other ways to preserve onions, of course, but since almost all of ours are used in cooking, this is what works for us. And speaking of work, these onions aren’t going to freeze themselves, so it’s back to the kitchen for me because tomorrow morning, I’m going to plant the fall vegetables!