Vidalia onions are one of the most delightful members of the onion family. They are a form of sweet onion, though not all sweet onions are Vidalia. Vidalia come from Vidalia, Georgia or thereabouts. If you are a person who find the sharp potent flavor of regular onions a bit overpowering, these are for you! There are other sweet onions such as Maui Maui from Hawaii and Walla Walla from Washington state. You can subsitute one for the other. More sophisticated onion connoisseurs can probably tell the difference between the varietals, but not me. And as a bonus, you will probably cry less when chopping Vidalias than than with regular onions, since they are much less pungent. Another big perk of Vidalias!
Vidalias are in season mid-April through August or September. They are harvested in the spring, are all in storage by around the beginning of July, and depending on how big the crop is, you will be able to find them into early fall.
How are Vidalia Onions Grown?
Amazingly Vidalias are still hand planted and harvested, and have been even since they were originally discovered and cultivated in the early 1930’s. They are grown in low sulfur soils, which prevent them from getting too strong in taste.
Vidalias began as a happenstance accident, just a crop of Georgia onions that were much less spicy than usual. But now they are cultivated in 20 counties and were given official legal status in 1986. The specific combination of weather, soil, and water is what give Vidalia onions their unique flavor. They are now the official state vegetable of Georgia!
What Do Vidalia Onions Taste Like?
Vidalias look like yellow onions, only on the larger side, and fatter and squattier. Sometimes you will see them labeled jumbo Vidalia onions, and those are onions that are at least 3-inches in diameter, to differentiate them from their smaller Vidalia cousins. Vidalias are much less potent and sweeter than red, yellow, or white onions, which is why they are often used in larger quantities, and liked by people who find most onions a bit overpowering.
How Do I Use Vidalia Onions?
They can be cooked in the same way as other onions – sautéed, caramelized, boiled, roasted, and so on—and so can be used in any recipe that calls for onion. Just know that the flavor is much milder, so you may want to either bump up the amount, perhaps add a bit of minced garlic to enhance the flavor, or just know you will have a milder dish.
They are terrific for in any raw preparations: in salads, and on burgers and sandwiches, for instance. Amazing in onion rings! And perfect for all kind of grilling and kebabs. They are delicious in recipes that call for loads of sautéed onions, and for any dish that involves baking onions.
Buying and Storing
Look for Vidalia onions in the produce aisle, or of course in farmers markets. Pick ones that are quite firm. Their high sugar and water content means that they spoil faster than regular onions, and can also bruise more easily. You don’t want any soft or wet spots, and the outer paper should be dry and flaky.
Vidalia onions have a high sugar and water content, so they are not quite as hardy as other types of onions. They can be stored in a cool dry place for weeks, possibly months if it’s cool and dry enough. Storing them in the fridge is ok, but since the fridge has moisture trapped in it, wrap each onion in a paper towel and store in the vegetable or crisper drawer.
If you buy them in a mesh bag, with a knot tied in between each onion, that is a perfect way to store them. Never store onions with potatoes, or vice versa—it will make each vegetable spoil faster.
You can also freeze Vidalias. Chop or dice them, spread them out on a tray and freeze them for a couple of hours. Then transfer them to an airtight container or zipper top bag for up to a couple of months.
Vidalias have 15% of your daily recommended value of vitamin C and 3 grams of fiber. Because of the higher sugar content, compared to other onions, they also have 60 calories per onion and 16 grams of carbs.
Vidalia Onion Recipes
Vidalia onions can be cooked in the same way as other onions and so can be used in any recipe (like the ones below) that calls for onion. These are some of my favorite onion-forward recipes to try your Vidalias in.