Monday, June 27, 2011
People say these onions can walk all on their own.
They do, in a way. The Egyptian Walking Onion sends up a scape heavy with bulbils, and if it is the Catawissa strain of the Egyptian Walking Onion, that head of bulbils may send up another level of scapes. As the bulbils on the flower head grow, the head bends lower and lower until it finally plants itself a few feet away from the mother plant. It has taken a few independent steps.
I've grown the Catawissa strain, or at least what appears to be the Catawissa strain, for a few years, and have now designated a corner of the garden for a permanant patch grown primarily for its bulbils (that I use in the recipe below). I'm not finished harvesting bulbils yet this year, but after getting most of them, I've found that they're larger and more prolific than ever before. This winter, I also planted a separate temporary row of bulbils to pull up and use in the scallion stage through the winter. They were delicious in stirfries, on the grill, and even braised.
Pickled Egyptian Walking Onions
I strayed away from typical pickling spices to create something I wanted to put in a martini. The juniper berry, clearly, was a natural choice, and the Meyer lemon peel adds a sweet, citrusy, almost floral quality. What I learned while creating these is that Meyer lemon and juniper berry go together very, very well. It is a flavor combination I need to play with more (while I'm sipping a martini that has one of these little numbers floating in it.)
You will need:
6 ounces of cleaned, skinned Egyptian Walking Onion bulbils (or pearl onions) weighed AFTER cleaning (I used the largest bulbils here for pickling, reserving the small ones to plant for winter scallions)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups white wine vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
2 1"x3" strips of Meyer lemon zest (peeled off with a veggie peeler, no white pith!)
24 gently crushed juniper berries
To make the pickled onions:
Toss the cleaned, skin-free onions in a small bowl with the salt. Cover it and place the bowl in the refrigerator overnight. The same day you salt the onions, start melding flavors of the pickling liquid. In a medium saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, lemon zest, and juniper berries. Bring the mixture to a boil, boil just until the sugar has dissolved into the vinegar, then remove the mixture from heat. Let it cool then pour it into a jar, lid it, and place it in the refrigerator to begin steeping overnight.
The next day, bring a couple cups of water to a boil, drop in the salted onions (do not rinse them!) and boil for one minute, just to get them tender. After one minute of boiling, drain them of the water they boiled in, and divide them among clean canning jars. I used four 1/4 pint (4 oz) jars, which gave me plenty of room to spread them out and include lots of the good pickling liquid. Pour the pickling liquid over the onions in the jars to make sure they're thoroughly covered, but leaving a 1/2" of head room. Wipe off the rim of each jar, place the lid on, and screw on the ring. Process in a boiling water bath for ten minutes. Carefully remove the jars from the hot water bath and let them cool for twelve hours before handling.
These onions will taste best if you store them for a few weeks before opening. This recipe makes one shy pint of pickled onions.