Green onions, also known as scallions or spring onions, are a versatile ingredient commonly used in various cuisines worldwide. They are young onions, harvested before their bulbs fully develop, and are characterized by their long, hollow green stalks and small white stems.
Known for their mild taste compared to regular onions, green onions offer a delightful flavor with a slightly less pungent bite.
In addition to their culinary uses, green onions provide some nutritional benefits. They are low in calories and carbohydrates, making them a healthy addition to many dishes.
Green Onions: An Overview
One of the distinguishing features between green onions and spring onions is the size of the bulb. Green onions have smaller, underdeveloped bulbs, whereas spring onions are known for their larger bulbs. Both types possess a mild flavor and do not typically cause tears during preparation.
Green onions are versatile and popular in many cuisines worldwide. They can be used raw or cooked and are often applied to vegetable salads, as well as seasonings in various dishes.
Additionally, green onions share some health benefits with onion bulbs, such as antibacterial and therapeutic properties.
Nutrition and Health Benefits
A single raw green onion contains only around 4.8 calories and has negligible amounts of fat (0g) and cholesterol.
Green onions also offer 0.3 grams of protein and just 2.4 milligrams of sodium, making them an ideal ingredient for those watching their sodium intake. The low glycemic index of green onions ensures they have little impact on blood sugar levels as well.
In terms of vitamins and minerals, green onions are a good source of essential nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, folate, and manganese.
Vitamin C supports immune function and helps with collagen synthesis, whereas vitamin B6 plays a role in the metabolism of protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Potassium supports nerve function and helps maintain a healthy blood pressure, while folate contributes to DNA synthesis and cell division.
Growing Green Onions
To grow green onions, start by selecting a location with full sun, as they require at least 6 hours of sunlight per day. This is particularly important if you’re planning to grow them on a windowsill indoors.
Once you’ve chosen a suitable location, prepare the soil for planting. Green onions thrive in rich, moist soil, so be sure to mix in plenty of compost or organic matter. If you’re growing green onions in containers, opt for high-quality potting soil to ensure proper drainage and nutrient availability.
Sow the seeds indoors eight to 10 weeks before your area’s last frost or directly outdoors when temperatures are consistently above 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Seeds should be planted ¼ inch deep, with rows spaced around 12 inches apart. Keep the soil consistently moist for optimal germination, which typically occurs in seven to 14 days.
Water your green onions regularly, ensuring the soil remains moist but not waterlogged.
Overwatering can lead to root rot, while insufficient water can cause the green shoots to become tough and bitter.
Harvesting Green Onions
Harvest your green onions when they have reached 7-8 inches in length. This can occur in as little as 20-30 days from planting, making them an incredibly quick and rewarding vegetable to grow. Enjoy your homegrown green onions in a variety of dishes, from salads and stir-fries to garnishes and dips.
Storing Green Onions
Like other vegetables, such as garlic and chives, green onions don’t need to be stored in a completely airtight environment.
However, it is essential to protect them from ethylene gas, which can cause the vegetable’s quality to deteriorate. You can achieve this by using a separate storage drawer in your refrigerator specifically for onions and other ethylene-sensitive vegetables.
Storing in Water
One effective method involves storing them in a jar with water. Simply place the green onions upright in the jar, submerging the roots, and cover with a bag before sealing with a rubber band. Then, store in the refrigerator. This can keep green onions fresh for weeks.
Paper Towel Method
Alternatively, you can wrap the green onions in a damp paper towel, place them in a plastic bag, and store them in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer. Ensure that the plastic bag has some small holes to allow air circulation and prevent the buildup of moisture, which could cause spoilage.
If you find yourself with an abundance of green onions, you can even freeze them for future use. Chop the green onions into small pieces, spread them out on a baking sheet, and freeze them for a few hours.
Once frozen, transfer the pieces to a ziplock bag or airtight container and store them in the freezer for up to six months.
Cooking With Green Onions
When it comes to appetizers, green onions play a starring role in many delightful options such as green onion pancakes and scallion dip. Their unique taste and texture create a satisfying and flavorful bite, perfect for starting a meal or enjoying as a snack.
One popular way to use green onions is by simply adding them as a garnish or flavor enhancer to mashed potatoes. The mild onion flavor pairs well with the creaminess of the potatoes, creating a delicious and comforting side dish.
Similarly, sprinkling chopped green onions on top of biscuits before baking provides an extra layer of taste and texture to this classic treat.
Stir-fry dishes can also benefit from the addition of green onions. They lend support to the other ingredients, bringing a fresh, crisp flavor that balances heavier or more savory components.
Stir-fries showcase the versatility of green onions, as both the leaves and stalk can be used in various stages of cooking to infuse the dish with distinct layers of onion flavor.
Fortunately, green onions lend themselves well to sauces, such as chimichurri or green onion aioli, which can elevate a simple side dish or casserole to something truly special.
Where to Buy Green Onion Seeds
Ready to grow your own green onions? Start with buying high-quality green onion seeds online.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the best uses of green onions in cooking?
Green onions are versatile and can be used in various dishes, including salads, stir-fries, soups, and garnishing. They add a mild onion flavor and a pop of color to your meals. You can use both the green and white parts, depending on the desired taste intensity.
Can you interchange leeks and green onions in recipes?
While both leeks and green onions are members of the onion family, they have different flavors and textures. Green onions have a mild onion taste, while leeks have a sweeter, more delicate flavor.
In some recipes, you can substitute green onions for leeks and vice versa, but be prepared for slight differences in taste and texture.
How much of the green onion stalk is edible?
Most of the green onion, including the white base and green stalk, is edible. The white part has a more intense onion flavor, while the green stalk is milder and slighty grassy.
You can chop and use both parts in your recipes, depending on the desired flavor intensity and color.
What are the nutritional benefits of including green onions in your diet?
Green onions are low in calories and rich in vitamins A, C, and K. They also contain minerals like potassium and magnesium. Including green onions in your diet can help boost your immune system, improve bone health, and aid in digestion.
However, they should be consumed in moderation, as too much may cause digestive discomfort.
Is there a difference between scallions and green onions?
There is no difference between scallions and green onions. Both terms can be used interchangeably to describe immature onions harvested before their bulb has fully formed. The terms may be used differently in various regions or countries, but they typically refer to the same plant.
Wrapping up Green Onions
Growing green onions is relatively easy and rewarding for both novice and experienced gardeners. They can be grown from seeds or by regrowing the trimmed ends of store-bought scallions.
Gardeners can enjoy an ongoing supply of fresh green onions by regularly planting new seeds or reusing the discarded ends from their kitchens. For more on growing and enjoying onions of all kinds, check out our onion hub page.