Sunday, May 05, 2002

Serve it this week: Vidalia onions

By Chuck Martin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        • History: The Vidalia onion was first grown in or near the southeastern Georgia town of the same name around 1930. Like all mild onions except the Walla Walla, Vidalia onions are hybrids of the same two onion types, Grano and Granex.

        • FYI: Although producers typically call Vidalia onions “sweet,” they actually contain less sugar than stronger-tasting storage onions. Vidalia onions are lower in the chemical compounds that give them “heat” and “mouth burn,” however, which allows their natural sugars to stand out.

        • Buy: Choose onions dry to the touch with thin, even torn, iridescent skin and solid tops.

        • Store: Vidalia onions are extremely perishable because of their high moisture content. Keep in a dry, cool place with good ventilation. The traditional storage method is to put the Vidalias in panty hose, tying knots between the onions, and hang in cool cellar or garage. Or, arrange the onions on wire racks.

        • Prepare: Peel, and cut crosswise into thick rings for frying or for serving raw on burgers and other sandwiches. Dice Vidalias for salads, salsas and for salads. If onion still seems too strong to serve raw, marinate it briefly in vinegar or lemon juice. To roast: For each person, rinse and dry 1/2 pound onion. Set root side down in roasting pan. Roast in 325 to 375-degree oven until tender, about an hour. Pull out small plug from top of onion and add a little butter, bacon grease or other fat, salt, pepper and herbs. Raise heat to 425 degrees and bake until lightly colored.


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- Serve it this week: Vidalia onions