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All about “Green Onion”

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Health profile

The green onion is an aromatic plant which, in Quebec, is improperly named “shallot”. Elsewhere in the world, it is sometimes called ”  spring onion  “. Its flavor is somewhere between that of onion and chives. The white part of the green onion is used like the onion, while the green part is generally considered to be a fine herb.

Active ingredients and properties

Green onion belongs to the family of alliaceae , known mainly for their protective effects against certain cancers 1-4 . So far, green onions have not been studied specifically in humans. However, it is possible to believe that it has properties similar to those of other members of its family, such as garlic, chives, shallots, onions and leeks.

Antioxidants . Green onions contain phytochemicals including flavonoids (mainly kaempferol) 5 . Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants that help neutralize free radicals , byproducts of the body’s oxidation reactions, which bind to and damage other molecules. Numerous studies have shown that a substantial intake of antioxidants from fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease 6-8 and certain types of cancer , 9 .

Sulfur compounds . Several observational studies have shown that an increased consumption of vegetables belonging to the alliaceae family could have a protective effect against certain cancers , mainly those of the digestive system 1-4 . Indeed, consumption of allium may reduce the development of cancer stomach 1-3 , of the esophagus 2 and of the intestine 3 . Another study showed that large consumers of alliaceae (more than 10 g / day, more than 25 ml) had 50% lessprostate cancer than small consumers (less than 2 g / day, less than 5 ml) 10 . In fact, alliaceae are thought to prevent the growth of cancer cells and protect cells from damage caused by carcinogens . 11 Their anticancer properties seem to be linked to their content of sulfur compounds 3 , which moreover give them their characteristic taste.

Other properties

Is green onion antioxidant? Green onion contains certain antioxidants, but currently its TAC index is not available.
Is green onion acidifying? Data not available.
Does green onion have a high glycemic load? Data not available.

Most important nutrients

What is a “portion” of green onion worth?
Weight / volume about half a green onion, 6 g / 15ml
Calories 2.2
Protein 0.1g
Carbohydrates 0.4 g
Fat 0.0 g
Dietary fiber 0.0 g

Source  : Health Canada. Canadian Nutrient File , 2005.

Green onions contain several vitamins and minerals, each in very small quantities, without however corresponding to a source.

Green onion over time

False shallot
What is called ”  shallot  ” in Quebec is actually the green onion . This confusion probably comes from the Anglo-Saxon influence, the English term shallot designating, in addition to the real shallot, the green onion. (See our fact sheet on shallots).

Everything indicates that the green onion of the species Allium fistulosum comes from the north of China and that it was probably domesticated at the turn of our era. On the other hand, we do not know where exactly the species Allium x proliferum comes from , or where it was domesticated. As it is a natural hybrid between Allium cepa and Allium fistulosum , it can be assumed that it comes from the region where these two species grew side by side, ie northwest of China. But, its place of origin could be multiple.

It was probably the Romans, great lovers of alliaceae of all kinds, who spread the culture of green onions in the West, but little is known about this vegetable which is considered a minor in agriculture.

Culinary uses

Choose well

Green onions are offered year-round, but the local product is available on the markets from June to October. Its tubular leaves should be very green and crisp, and its bulb very firm.

Culinary dishes

The onion that nods its head
The “plump” onion ( Allium cornuum ) is a species native to North America. Its small flowers are suspended at the end of long and thin stems, which gives it the air of nodding its head. The Amerindians dressed it raw, grilled on the fire or parboiled in pits. It often accompanied salmon, duck, seal or black lichen.
  • Green onions are typical of West Indian cuisine . It is used in a multitude of dishes, often by adding it to cooking wine or by cooking it for a few minutes in boiling water before adding it as a garnish to meat or fish. A stew of fish, washed down with a sauce made of crushed garlic, chopped green onion, lemon juice, pepper and oil, will do wonders. As for the red cive, whose leaves and stems are highly aromatic, it contributes to the flavor of the West Indian sausage, a dish made from pork blood, breadcrumbs, peppers and milk.
  • In China, Korea, Japan , green onions are everywhere. It is often eaten whole, with its bulbs, or in sections, in strips, in rings, in soups, noodle dishes, stews, etc.
  • In China , finely sliced ​​fish or meat fondues are cooked in a broth made of water, green onion and chopped cabbage.
  • In Korea , we make Putchou tchon, a kind of pancake whose dough is made of flour, water, eggs, salt, sugar, raw mashed zucchini and whole green onion. They are served with a lemon sauce and soy sauce.
  • In Japan , we pass pieces of chicken breast in a food processor with ginger and green onion. With the resulting dough, we shape dumplings the size of a small nut that we thread on skewers and that we cook on the grill. You can also cut the green onion into sections that you put on skewers with pieces of chicken. Bake after dipping the skewers in a marinade made of sake, soy sauce, sugar and ginger slices.
  • At Easter, in Poitou , it is traditional to serve the kid on a bed of cooked green onions.
  • In Vendée , we make a soup composed of a bouquet of green onion and stale bread, which will cook for fifteen minutes in boiling salted water. At the end of cooking, add fresh cream, salt and pepper.
  • In Italy , carpaccios of meat or fish are very suitable for a few sprigs of chopped green onion.
  • Cottage cheese (sheep’s milk if possible) made in Greece by draining the cheese for a few hours, then adding crème fraîche, garlic crushed with salt, fenugreek seeds, pepper, cumin , olive oil and a dash of lime. At the very end, add a good amount of chopped green onion. Serve with tomatoes, olives, slices of sweet onion and a drizzle of olive oil.
  • Incorporate green onion in all marinades for food cooked on the grill.
  • The whole plant, with its bulb, goes wonderfully well with white meats .
  • Brown the frogs ‘ legs in a frying pan and when ready, sprinkle them with a good amount of chopped green onion, previously soaked in lemon juice to extract the flavor. Add a little crème fraîche, salt, allow the sauce to bind and serve.
  • Add to stuffing . Try the mushrooms stuffed with garlic and green onion, and baked in the oven with butter.
  • Liberally use green onion in omelets and salads .
  • In addition to being decorative, flowers are consumed. Detach the florets from the head and add to a salad or any other dish at the end of cooking.

In the case of the species Allium x proliferum , of course the leaves and the underground bulb are consumed, but especially the bulbils which grow at the end of the stem. We make them confit in vinegar.

Conservation

Refrigerator  : green onion can be kept for four or five days, in an open or microperforated bag. However, it seems that in northern Asia, we manage to keep it for a few months. The leaves turn yellow, but the small bulb retains all its flavor.

Freezer  : you can freeze it after blanching it for a few minutes.

Organic gardening

The “working” onion
Absent from commercial crops, the “working” onion ( Allium x proliferum ) is grown in family gardens. It has the particularity of forming bulbils or onions at the top of a sterile flower stalk. Over the season, its stem softens, then tilts towards the ground under the weight of the bulbils which will take root, giving birth to other plants. Thus, the border or the row moves, advancing a few centimeters each year, hence the English name of walking onion that we gave to this species.

Today there are many varieties belonging to the species Allium fistulosum . As this species is perennial, we can harvest its young stems year after year, especially in spring, because unlike what happens in tropical countries, in our latitudes and our climates, the plant goes to seed in early summer , and its stems then become leathery and fibrous.

To counter the problem, we will treat part of the harvest as if it were an annual, that is to say, we will make, each year, successive sowing from late spring until mid-July. Or, again, one or two very tight sowing will be done, spreading out the transplants. This will not prevent maintaining a bed of perennial vet onions which will multiply each year, giving both plants to divide and seeds (collect the seeds and use them for summer sowing). Note that modern varieties crossed in Japan are not cold tolerant and should therefore be grown exclusively as annuals.

In Japan and China, varieties with long stems are transplanted twice in order to save space and give resistance to plants. Butter these to increase the proportion of white.

For summer and fall production, seeds of one or other of the many varieties of the species Allium cepa (common onion) can also be sown in early summer . Onions sown at this time of year will not have time to form bulbs and can therefore act as a green onion. However, their flavor is not comparable to that of real green onion.

Finally, we will plant the bulbils of the perennial species Allium x proliferum in spring or autumn, or we will divide the plants already installed.

These various planting programs make it possible to have green stems and leaves throughout the season, as well as, as a bonus, bulbils and flowers in summer. Grow at least one variety with a red coat to add color to the salad.

The year before cultivation, sow oats in green manure, this culture being beneficial to green onion. The four-year rotation must include any member of the alliaceae family (garlic, shallot, chives, onion, leek, etc.).

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