July 24, 2024


The Food community

Vidalia onion and cucumber salad, sweet onion confit and baked Vidalia onion

4 min read

Who doesn’t get a sweet tooth, at least once in awhile, for a sweet onion? That thick slice of Rockies-purple red onion on a burger at Coors Field? Sweets cooked slowly and forever into a jam-like confit, sweeter than any that regular onions could make?

It’s well-nigh impossible to think of a cuisine anywhere that doesn’t use onions, but sweet onions are special. (They also are a wee percentage of the world crop.) Many sweets sell in Colorado, such as Washington’s Walla Walla, Hawaii’s Maui, that Rockies-purple Red Bermuda or even our own state’s Colorado Sweet, available here most years August through October.

But close to half of all the sweet onions that cooks buy in the United States come from Vidalia, Ga., and carry that name. Discovered accidentally (and felicitously) in the 1930s during the Great Depression, a Vidalia sports a whopping 12 percent sugar content versus a normal onion’s 5 percent.

Too, the low sulfur content of the soil around the town of Vidalia contributes to the Vidalia’s low “cry quotient.” (Onions make you tear up due to their native sulfur compounds that irritate our eyes.)

Two neat factoids about Vidalias: They are the official state vegetable of Georgia and the nickname of their mascot is “Yumion.”

The recipes here are three very different turns on eating Vidalias (or other sweet onions that you might use in place of them).

One is a baked Vidalia recipe that I learned from a close Denver friend who once did consulting work in Georgia and brought this recipe back as her “favorite way to eat an onion.” It is a terrifically delicious rendering and tastes like French onion soup in a block.

Another is from a regional cookbook celebrating recipes from around our country; you get to eat the Vidalia raw but slightly pickled. And the third recipe is from my favorite website for French home cooking, marmiton.org. I translated for you a simple onion confit made with sweet onions. Enjoy it to the side of some charcuterie, as a topping for something grilled, or off a spoon just as is.

It’s that sweet.

Baked Vidalia Onion

The recipe is for the onion called “Vidalia,” from the state of Georgia. You may use other sweet onions, of course, such as a Washington State Walla Walla or, to keep it real, a Colorado Sweet. Makes 1 but is easily multiplied. A whole onion is a suitable serving for 1 person, especially if accompanied by other foods to round out the service.


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