I think about my sweet grandmother, Reba every time I see a Vidalia® onion. She passed away nearly thirty years ago but I still remember her techniques to help Vidalia onions last longer. After her funeral, my parents helped sort and clear out her apartment. The task wasn’t easy. She died suddenly so everything was just as she had left it on the morning of the car accident. Along with their grief, Dad and his siblings were able to share many happy memories as they organized and divided her belongings. Some of the more mundane items from her kitchen and pantry, like the “legs” of Vidalia onions made us all smile.

My grandmother knew that the harvest season for Vidalia onions was short. She handled and stored them carefully so she could enjoy them long after the season ended. Reba recycled old hosiery and carefully stuffed onions into the legs and tied a knot between each one. She hung the “legs” in a cool dry place so air could circulate around them and they wouldn’t get bumped or bruised. I inherited one of Reba’s “legs” of onions that year. My family and I enjoyed them through the fall. Now it is my own tradition to purchase Vidalias in bulk, tie them in repurposed stockings and hang them in my pantry.

Store Vidalia Onions Properly and Enjoy Them Longer

Vidalia onions are summer treasures, grown only in South Georgia. They are deliciously crisp and sweet. These onions have been included in great southern recipes since the 1930s. They are wonderful raw and crisp, chopped and folded into potato, chicken or tuna salad, sliced and served on burgers, or alongside fresh tomatoes and cucumbers from the garden. These delicious onions seem even sweeter when stir fried with Zucchini or folded into a summer squash casserole.

Because their water content is higher than other varieties, Vidalia onions are more susceptible to bruising, which shortens their shelf life. It’s best to minimize handling and avoid bumping them around. The key to storing them is keeping them cool and dry. Although I think they last longer when hung in stockings, you can also store them in the refrigerator. Vidalia growers recommend that you wrap the onions individually in paper towels to absorb the moisture if you plan to refrigerate them.

The Vidalia season runs between late April and early September. If you have never tried a Vidalia onion you don’t know what you are missing! They aren’t just a Georgia treat. Vidalia onions now ship to markets across the country and you can also order them by mail.

Vidalia onion growers are serious about protecting the quality of their brand. They formed the Vidalia Onion Committee and secured state and federal protection that defines what a Vidalia onion is and where it can be grown. They have even established a standard first ship date to ensure consistent quality.1,2

Growers believe that the climate combined with the low sulfur and sandy soil in their specific area of South Georgia, make Vidalia onions special – unlike any other sweet onions.1

In addition to their great texture and very sweet taste, Vidalias are full of nutrition. They can be more than just an added ingredient to other recipes. These onions are delicious when simply drizzled with olive oil, roasted and served as a stand-alone healthy, low fat, low sodium and low calorie vegetable serving. They are a great source of fiber and vitamin C as well as Calcium, Potassium and other important minerals.3

My grandmother, Reba found and shared joy in the simplest things and she was full of love. She adored her grandchildren and great grandchildren and we loved her back. She always seemed delighted when we visited. I still remember the twinkle in her eyes, her soft voice and the sound of her sweet giggles when we melted into her warm hugs.

She was an incredible baker and wonderful cook. Her home was always brimming with kindness and delicious aromas.

Each time that I cut another sweet Vidalia onion from the stockings that hang in my pantry, I think of my sweet grandmother. She made the most delicious homemade cakes that I’ve ever had – German Chocolate was my favorite. I think she’d be amused that Vidalia onions also remind me of her. I can just imagine her giggle and it continues to make me smile.

If you want to try storing some Vidalias in stockings this year, don’t delay. Although I saw some in local markets last week, 2016 supplies may be limited. On Monday, August 8th M&T Farms, a Vidalia Internet and mail order grower, announced that their last shipping day was July 29th and their 2016 crop is sold out.

Don’t Miss Vidalia Onions Next Year

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1The Vidalia Onion Committee
2The Produce News
“Georgia Ag Commissioner confirms April 25 start date for Vidalia onion season”
3The National Onion Association
Onion Nutrition Facts