I know. I promised you a recipe for cherry vanilla ice cream. The reality is I wrote the cherry post before the ice cream was finished and the flavor just wasn’t what I wanted to publish. I’m still working on the perfect dairy-free ice cream that doesn’t involve frozen “juice” concentrate. And when I say juice it’s more of sugar in a can. However, if you’re in the market for a really awesome orange sherbet that is truly dairy free, has the consistency of real orange sherbet and is just plain awesome… I have a recipe for you. It is a tweak on this one.
Oh onions! I was going to write about onions.
There are a few things that I find very satisfying to grow. Dry shelling beans, potatoes and onions. Why those and not tomatoes or corn? Well, while I love to grow tomatoes, they are time consuming and frustrating. As far as corn goes, I’ve never gotten a really good corn crop. Besides, heirloom corn just isn’t as good as hybrid sweet corn, let’s be honest.
To me, satisfaction is pulling something out of my dry storage that I grew. I like the canned goods, but the jars of dry beans make me smile. I have a large box in my garage that houses all of my potatoes and onions for the winter. I’ll show you that another day.
For now let’s focus on the onions.
This year I opted to grow two kinds of onions. Red Zeppelins were supposed to be my storage onion and Walla Walla Sweets were supposed to be my Green/Spring/Summer onions. Wallas are notoriously poor storage onions. They will also rot in the ground if left too long. You have to harvest them at just the right time and consume them (or give them away) in a short period of time (about 2 months at the most). I also eked out a few Red Cippolinis from a pony pack of onions I purchased last year to fill out the garden since I had a photographer coming to photograph it.
Today we’ll focus on the Wallas because I’ve already harvested the cippolinis and the zeppelins have already started to flower. In all I planted about 3 dozen Walla Walla onions. I plant the starts about 1 1/2″ apart. I start harvesting every other onion as soon as they start to grow. This way I get green onions (scallions) then Spring onions and they hopefully they are thinned enough to form good sized bulbs. This year my plan worked out perfectly.
The next trick is to know when to harvest them. Generally I like to harvest after the tops have fallen over, but before the leaves totally brown. 2-3 brown leaves is about ideal. They should look a bit like this:
The onions at the back of the bed are the zeppelins. They aren’t ready to go yet. Also, ignore the weeds. I don’t do a ton of weeding in the onion bed because I don’t want to disturb the bulbs more than I have to.
If the onions are still buried quite a ways in the ground then use a shovel or small trowel to gently dig them out. Since I plant mine in hilled rows the soil normal recedes away from the bulb making them easy to just yank out of the ground. You want to get the bulb and the greens out in a single unit. Here is one batch I pulled.
Now, don’t wash the dirt off of your onion. Actually don’t get them wet at all. The next part is the most important for longest term storage… curing. If the onions don’t cure properly and go into the storage container too wet you’ll get mold. One moldy onion will ruin a whole crop.
In years past I’ve cured my onions in my garage. However, I had a minor rodent issue in my garage last Fall so I no longer cure food in there. This year I’m taking advantage of my greenhouse space and curing them in there. You can use your garage, laundry room, extra bathroom, basement, anywhere really. Just make sure it is dry.
In my greenhouse the benches are made of old pallets so one side has large spaces between the slats. I hung the onions over the slats so the bulbs are hanging down. I alternate them so the greens aren’t all crammed together which might cause mold.
Once the greens have totally turned brown they should easily pull away from the onion bulb. Once that happens I will put them into 3-5 gallon nursery buckets with layers of dry pine shavings and put the buckets into my storage box. The box keeps things cool and dark, but still allows for air circulation.