Getting your fill of sweet onions this spring? We thought not. Fortunately, more sweet onions will come out of the ground soon. The famous Walla Walla Sweet Onions, direct from the volcanic-rich soils of the Walla Walla Valley in southern Washington and northern Oregon, will be harvested by mid-June. They will be available in grocery stores throughout Pacific Northwest and Western Coast in mid-June.
These American gems are cultivated by a small group of about 20 farmers tending roughly 500 acres in the southeastern corner of Washington State, nestled at the foot of the Blue Mountains. “Walla Walla” is a Native American word meaning “many waters.” The hardy Walla Walla sweet onions survive the nearly 18 inches of precipitation each year.
Walla Walla Sweet Onions are available through August
“There is always is that anxious anticipation to begin harvest,” said Michael Locati, owner of Locati Farms and chairman of the Walla Walla Sweet Marketing Committee. “Watching the crop for over eight months is probably what it is like being a mother-to-be. The good days and the bad days all come together during harvest. All the long days and sleepless nights pay off watching the boxes get loaded into the trucks shipped across our market reach. Every year there is a different challenge but that is what makes it fun to keep pushing the envelope and trying new things.”
Harvest takes place mid-June through August. Consumers should be able to find them throughout the Pacific Northwest, Southern California, and Canada. Learn more about Walla Wallas here.
Walla Wallas are sweet with less bite
The mildness of the Walla Walla sweet onion is not due to sugar, but to low sulfur content, which is half that of an ordinary onion. Less sulfur means less “bite” and no tears. The Sweets are widely known for their large size, weighing up to 2 pounds and measuring up to 5 inches in diameter. Separate the sweets from each other in a cool, ventilated location and enjoy them fresh, or chop and store in the freezer for year-round pleasure.
Onions are one of the oldest vegetables across the globe and represent an approximate $8 billion marketplace in America. They contain 11 vitamins and minerals and are naturally fat, cholesterol and sodium free. They have been shown to help reduce cardiovascular disease, combat some cancers, and diabetes, and they can be cooked in a variety of ways to enhance flavors. Those many skills are why the National Onion Association calls it “Nature’s Ninja.” For more on Natures’ Ninja, go to www.onions-usa.org.
Try this great Walla Walla Sweet Recipe today:
Walla Walla Sweet Onion Upside-Down Cornbread
5 slices thick-cut bacon
1 ½ tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups ground yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
½ cup minced Walla Walla Sweet Onion
1 Jumbo Walla Walla Sweet Onion, sliced ¼ inch thick
2 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
¼ teaspoon onion powder
2 ½ cups whole buttermilk
6 tablespoons melted butter
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a 10-inch cast-iron skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp, about 8 minutes. Remove bacon and drain on paper towels, reserving drippings in skillet. Add minced onion; cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Remove from skillet. Wipe skillet clean and heat oil over medium heat. Place onion slices in oil, filling bottom of skillet to edges. Cook onions until tender and golden brown, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat.
Roughly chop cooled bacon. In a large bowl, whisk together corneal, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and onion powder. Stir in cheese. In a medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, melted butter and eggs. Make a well in the center of dry ingredients. Add buttermilk mixture and stir until combined. Fold in bacon and minced onion. Carefully pour batter over sliced onion. Bake until golden brown and a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let cool in skillet for 10 minutes. Invert onto wire rack, and let cool completely. Makes 8 servings.
Recipe for the National Onion Association by Walla Walla Sweet Onion Marketing Committee.
Per serving: 528 calories, 13.5 g protein, 56 g carbohydrates, 28 g fat, 91 mg cholesterol, 2.5 g fiber, 1,635 mg sodium.