Chives, Onions and Garlic – The Family of Alliums
When you think of onions, do you first think of the rounded storage bulb that is abundant at the grocery store? Sometimes I do too. The bulb onion is nice because of the its long storage life. It gets us through the long winter months. Now that spring is here, there is so much more flavor available from the onion family.
The Chives (onion or garlic) are the first to arrive in the spring. Onion chives are the rounded,hollow springs that if often served on your baked potato. They are available all summer long. In June just they also produce a wonder pink edible flower (onion flavored, of course), that is great for flavoring oils and vinegars for future use.
Alongside these onion chives is their cousin the garlic chive. Yep, there is more than one type of chive. The garlic chives flavor is more garlicky. Big surprise, right? The leaves, however, are different, as is the flower. The leaves are a light green and are a thin, flat leaf that reminds me of fettuccine. The flower blooms in late August and is a large cluster size and white. It is also edible and be used to flavor oils and vinegars and your baked potato. Yum!
Terra Basics also grows Evergreen onions and Walking Onions. These two have similar growing habits. The evergreen onion, doesn’t have feet to walk like the walking onions! The evergreen onion, (Welsh onion) is a green onion with a superiority complex. They can get huge in size as well as flavor. They are very, very full of tangy onion flavor as the season goes on. I would even say pungent. They grow in bunches. As long as one onion is left, it can withstand the New Hampshire winter and come back strong in the spring.
The Walking Onion, can also withstand the cold winters of North. Although the entire plant can be used, its prize is the small, pungent bulb that forms on the top of the plant. Yep, the bulb is on the top. Seems upside down, but it seems to work for this onion. The top bulbs get heavy when not collected, the stock falls over 1-3 ft from its base and Viola. The onion has walked, because the bulb will take root and start an entirely new plant. It’s an interesting plant to watch.
The newest addition to the Terra Basics gardens a Japanese green onion, Ishikura. This carries the same latin name as the evergreen onion. We will see how this strain does alongside the evergreen onion.
We are also growing bulb onions, Dakota Tears. Because of our sheltered area, bulb onions have not always been a good producer. Now that the area is opened up more, we are hoping for some long winter storage onions!
A much forgotten spring favorite is the garlic shoot. These are the smaller shoots of garlic that are in their second year – Three years of growing to get from a garlic seed to a full head of garlic. These add nice garlicky flavor and can be displayed like a green onion. Terra Basics grows are own garlic shoots and bulbs from seed that we harvest here on the farm.
A wonderful thing about all these flavors and options is they too can take us through the long winter months with minimum processing to preserve the plant. These freeze well or if you have a dehydrator, they dry well for very long term storage.
Whatever your choice for great onion or garlic flavor, Terra Basics has some options for you.
Fresh Chive Cream Cheese Spread
- 4 oz cream cheese – softened
- 1 TSBP chopped, fresh onion chives
- 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
- Black pepper to taste
Blend all ingredients together until well mixed. Refrigerate to firm up.
Use on toast, with cucumbers for a light morning breakfast.
Mix a few teaspoons of seasoned cream cheese with beaten eggs for scrambled eggs.
Impress your family and friends and make into small balls and coat with ground sunflower seeds and serve with dinner. Serve on cooked vegetables.
Substitute butter for the cream cheese. Its really good too!