Versatile and flavoursome, rich in vitamins and minerals, spring onions are one of the easiest vegetables to grow and preserve. This edible plant is low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium and a good source of Dietary Fibre, Vitamin B6, Folate, Potassium, Manganese and Vitamin C.
For those of us who grow our own, the crop frequently bolts in warm weather with all the plants producing seed heads at the same time. Successive plantings are the best way to avoid this scenario, but that takes time and a level of planning and organisation frequently in short supply here. If you don’t grow your own, it’s not unusual to bring home a bunch of spring onions, use half and throw out the wilted leftovers a week later. An alternative to this waste and ‘feast or famine’ scenario is to preserve the surplus by either drying or freezing.
To freeze, simply wash, shake dry and chop up all the onions. Use what you need and freeze the remainder loosely in a zip-lock plastic bag or glass jar. There is no need to defrost the content before using, just use a spoon to scoop out the amount you need and throw these straight into the pot or fry pan. This is also very convenient when time is short.
If you grow your own, avoid uprooting spring onions when harvesting. Just make a clean cut about an inch above soil level and re-growth will begin rapidly. This is more time efficient than growing from seed. Here, we tend to harvest as many green leaves as we need from several plants and leave the rest to keep growing. This extends our capacity to harvest, over several months and seasons, from just a few plants. When these plants start to form seed heads, we keep a few for seeds and preserve the rest by freezing.
If you don’t grow your own, in addition to freezing any left overs, you may also want to plant the end roots. Trim roots from the plants, cut the spring onions about one inch above the roots and replant these in your garden or in a pot. With regular watering, watch them sprout green leaves within a week. This method also works well for young leeks.
Recently, I experimented with drying a small batch of surplus spring onions. As in Preserving mushrooms, I chopped them finely and spread the cuttings on drying trays, using clean curtain mesh, in several layers, to maximize airflow. They were ready to put away within 48 hours and stored in glass jars, on pantry shelves. I use them like dried herbs, sprinkled over savoury dishes, pizzas and salads.
If you would like to learn more about simple food preserving methods, a free Sustainability Workshop is offered on this topic in Holdfast Bay, later this month.
Thursday November 20, 2014 – at 10am, Glenelg North Community Centre, Alison St, Glenelg North
Bookings Essential: email firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday 17 November, 2014