What are Spring Onions?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Spring onions are a variety of green onion or scallion with a stronger flavor that packs a distinctive bite. They can be used in any recipes that call for green onions, ranging from salads to salsas, especially when cooks want an extra kick in their food. Many markets and greengrocers stock these onions when they are in season, and they can also easily be grown at home; bulbs from the supermarket can even be used as a starter to grow new ones.

Spring onions have larger bulbs than green onions, which give them a strong flavor.
Spring onions have larger bulbs than green onions, which give them a strong flavor.

As their name suggests, these onions come into season in the spring. They look very similar to green onions, except that their bulbs are larger and more defined. The larger bulbs have a concentrated onion flavor, although the greens are also strongly flavored as well. Just like regular green onions, spring onions are often sold with their roots attached.

Spring onions are used in many recipes, including salads.
Spring onions are used in many recipes, including salads.

There are a number of ways to use the onions in cooking. They can be diced or chopped and added to sauces, stir fries, and other dishes. They can also be grilled and eaten plain, or roasted and served as a garnish or side vegetable. Some people enjoy eating them straight with a little bit of salt, although this activity is not for the faint of heart. They can also be caramelized in savory tarts to bring out their natural sweetness and complex flavors.

Flavorful spring onions are often added to Chinese stir-fries.
Flavorful spring onions are often added to Chinese stir-fries.

When selecting spring onions in the store, shoppers should look for a bunch with crisp, firm leaves that are a uniform rich green. Consumers should discard specimens with discolored, slimy, or wilted leaves, and look for crisp, hard bulbs. They can be kept in the fridge for a couple of days, and they should be washed them before use. Cooks may also want to peel the outer layer of the bulb off to access the tender, crunchy interior.

Finely chopped spring onions can be a flavorful addition to vegetable salads.
Finely chopped spring onions can be a flavorful addition to vegetable salads.

People can grow these onions in the garden or in a container. Gardeners should pick a reasonably sunny spot with well drained soil to plant seeds or starter bulbs, and keep the onions moist, but not soaking wet, as they grow. If cooks just want to use the more mild greens, they can shear them off near the bulb, allowing the onions to grow fresh shoots to restock the larder. Chefs can also pull the onions out and use them whole, bulb and all.

Spring onions may be used as a substitute for chives in many dishes.
Spring onions may be used as a substitute for chives in many dishes.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

anon122046

so since it's not spring should i use scallions instead?

pharmchick78

Is growing spring onions the same as growing sweet onions? I want to grow my own onions, but I can only find sweet onion seeds, not spring onion seeds.

Does anybody have any idea?

lightning88

Nice article -- I love using these things. My go-to potluck contribution is spring onion dip mix.

It's really easy: all you do is chop the onions very finely, then throw it into the blender or food processor with about two cups of sour cream and a skidge of garlic.

If you really want to bring out the onion flavor, then you can use roasted spring onions in the mix rather than raw -- it gives it just a little extra kick.

CopperPipe

Spring onion sets can be a nice little home project for kids too. Since they're so easy to grow, and they tend to shoot up pretty quickly, its a good object lesson in biology and agriculture.

If you're a little leery (or have a black thumb yourself) there are a lot of web sites on gardening onions, so you can get your head around it before you plant.

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