If there is one ingredient that we love to add to our meals in this country it’s onions.
Well maybe garlic too.
Onions tend to have an advantage over garlic. There are more choices.
Every grocery store pretty much only has one type of garlic. Sometimes you see Elephant Garlic (not true garlic) and if you are at a gourmet store, you may even see the fermented black garlic.
Farmer’s markets will show you that there are more garlic options, but for most of the year, we get one choice.
Not with onions We got yellow, red, and white onions any day of the week. Rain or shine.
Sweet onion is another category of onion you will see. With sweet onions we do see variations, usually by region.
That brings me to the great and glorious Vidalia onion. You may know it by name, but you may not fully know yet. Why isn’t it just called a sweet onion or a yellow onion?
Let me share with you that differences between the Vidalia onion and the yellow onion. We will talk a little sweet onion too.
What is the Difference Between Vidalia Onions and Yellow Onions?
In reality, Vidalia onions are yellow onions. If it wasn’t for the sticker on the onions you may not be able to even tell them apart.
So why even bother distinguishing the two? It’s comes down to sugar and sulfur.
What Makes Vidalia Onions Sweeter Than Other Onions?
Vidalia onions are considered by many to be the superior onion. The reason is their sweet flavor than cannot be equaled.
Vidalia onions are also known as F1 Granax Hybrid. You can buy these same onions to grow in your garden, but I imagine you will be disappointed.
Why? It’s all about the soil. The soil in the area around Vidalia, Georgia contains an unexpected low amount of sulfur. It’s the sulfur in the soil that gives onions their bite.
The onions grown in this soil lack the sulfur of other onions, thus their sweetness shines forth.
Most onions are somewhere around 5% sugar, while Vidalias are over 12% sugar. That makes a HUGE difference in terms of flavor.
Since the soil condition is unique to that area of Georgia, the same onions grown anywhere else will be hot, not sweet. By law, only 20 counties in the state of Georgia are allowed to sell their onions as Vidalias.
How Do Vidalia Onions Differ From Other Sweet Onions?
You will also see onions in the store that are labelled as sweet onions. Sometimes they are Vidalia and sometimes they are not. Always read the sticker on the onion, don’t trust the signs.
What is the difference? These other sweet onions are grown in different parts of the country. Texas 1015 (named after the planting date) and Walla Walla onions are two other examples. Typically you don’t find them both at the same time so it can be hard to do a direct comparison.
In my experience, I have felt the Vidalia onions are still the sweeter onions and the one that doesn’t give me tears.
Do Vidalia Onions Make You Cry?
Onions make me cry. I can’t take very much for them at all before I am tearing up. Leeks can give me trouble too.
However, Vidalia onions I don’t cry with. The reduced sulfur in the onion is what keeps the tears at bay. Another reason I love to work with them more than any other type of onion.
When are Vidalia Onions in Season?
The season for these onions is from early Spring into the beginning part of summer.
The start date is different each season. And that date is regulated by the Georgia Department of Agriculture.
The water content in Vidalia onions is greater than that of yellow onions. Because of this the onions will go bad faster. You want to store them in a cool dry place or in the fridge wrapped in paper towels.
While it may seem like a good idea, don’t store onions with potatoes as this can cause the onions to go bad quicker.
My Favorite Way to use Vidalia Onions
Vidalia onions usually come into season when my homemade frozen tomato sauce supply has been used up.
In order to make homemade tomato sauce sweet enough without adding sugar, I use Vidalia onions. I caramelize them in a pan and mix them into my tomato sauce that I make from either canned tomatoes or tomato paste.
The onions add the sweetness that I am missing from not using freshly picked in season tomatoes. And off course they add tons of flavor.
For additional sweetness I also like to throw in some carrot as well. And for flavor some celery.
Vidalia Onion Tomato Paste Sauce
Learn how to take sweet Vidalia onions and use them for a tomato sauce made with just tomato paste.
In a large pot combine the diced carrots, onions, and celery. Add a dash of kosher salt.
Cook over medium high heat, stirring often until the vegetables have browned and softened.
Add in the tomato paste and chicken stock. Stir to combine and bring to just a boil. remove from heat.
If you want a smooth sauce then puree in a food processor, blender, or with a stick blender.
Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking.
Serve over your favorite pasta. You will need about a pound and you may have leftover sauce.
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