This year, we’re having family up to our place for Christmas. Even my brother’s inlaws will be joining us! We’re very excited about the company and trying to get a plan in place that suits everyone.
Of course, my mother will be bringing the perennial favorite for our family – pernil. Pernil is the classic Puerto Rican pork roast that my Latino family tends to make for almost every holiday or special event. Each family probably has their own way of preparing it, and I honestly couldn’t tell you how my mom does. Of course, after learning how to make pasteles last year, I should probably learn this soon, to make it for my own family!
Not everyone likes pork though, so at the farmer’s market this weekend, K and I ordered a standing rib roast from Bella Terra Farm ! We tried a london broil steak from them a few weeks ago (we’re opening up from Sweet Tree, even though we love them!) and it was delicious! So we’ll give it a shot for Christmas and see how everyone likes it.
While we were at their stall, we noticed these funky looking things and when we questioned them, were given one to try. We learned they’re called Walking Onions.
Walking onions are so-called because once planted, they grow and sprout bulblets (kind of like garlic scapes) while still on the original stalk, then bend over and plant again – “walking.” They’re also known as Tree Onions and Egyptian Onions.
Just like most onions, they store well for a few months. We haven’t tried ours yet, but I’m looking forward to roasting it to get the full, strong taste!
Here’s a wonderful resource on Egyption onions: http://counties.cce.cornell.edu/schenectady/Master%20Gardener%20Website/projectdocs/factsheets/vegetables/Egyptian%20Onions.pdf
The text is as follows:
Egyptian Onions are the Easiest
By Walter Chandoha, Organic Gardening Magazine
Prepared by: Cornell Cooperative Extension, Albany County 9/15/83
By March my supply of homegrown cooking onions is exhausted, and I hate to pay 25 to 50 cents a pound for more at the supermarket. I’ve gotten around dependence on the grocery by planting Egyptian onions. These versatile bulbs — also called multiplier, tree or top onions — provide scallions in the fall and pungent bulbs and leaves in spring and early summer. Egyptian onions are hardy enough to live through the harshest winters (while you use up your keeping onions) and are one of the first plants to start growing again in the spring. After your initial purchase of bulbs, you’ll never have to buy more, because each summer the plants produce more bulblets which form atop three, foot tall stalks.
Each plant produces from five-to-eight bulblets. When the stalk that bears them begins to bend or break, the little top bulbs, or sets, are mature. They can be planted from the time they’re harvested in July well into the fall. I’ve even put them in after a frost in October, but results are better when they’re planted in July, August or September. After taking root, slender green leaves emerge from the bulbs and make fairly fast growth. In a month you’ll have about a dozen, foot long, closely clustered leaves where each bulb was planted. The earlier in the season you plant, the sooner you’ll have usable bulbs in the fall. I try to plant them as soon as there’s some room in the garden.
Like all alliums, Egyptian onions grow best in full sun, in a sweet rich, well-drained soil. To get these qualities in my garden, I had to lighten the heavy clay soil with sand and add lots of wellrotted horse manure and wood ashes. To further improve drainage, I raised the 3- by 6-foot onion bed about ten to 12 inches higher than the surrounding garden.
Plant the sets about an inch deep and three to four inches apart in rows from 12 to 15 inches apart. After planting, I water the bed thoroughly. After the onions are growing vigorously, every second plant is pulled for green scallions. At the time the scallions are pulled, and again a week later, I fertilize the remaining plants with manure tea.
The green leaves will live through light frosts, but eventually they’ll succumb to a hard freeze and the plants will go dormant. To keep the bulbs from heaving out of the ground with alternate freezing and thawing, mulch the bed after the ground is frozen hard. As soon as the temperature reaches the 40′s and 50′s in the spring, they’ll resume growing and fresh green leaves will emerge; by St. Patrick’s Day they’ll be a foot high in New Jersey. The new leaves will grow through the mulch, and you won’t have to weed if the mulch is thick enough.
As the weather gets warmer, the plants grow more rapidly, and in late May to early June seed stalks grow up from each leaf cluster. By July they are a foot or two taller than the green leaves and topped by bunches of miniature onions. Harvest these bulblets or top onions before they topple over and start a random colony. I prune the clusters off the stem and collect them in a bushel basket. Later, I separate them into individual bulbs to cure in my garden house, where the temperatures are fairly high and the humidity low.
The top bulbs are also edible. They’re handy to have in the kitchen when just a little bit of onion flavor is needed, squeeze a few in a garlic crusher and add to salads, soups and stews. Mince some to add to sauces. Whole top bulbs can be boiled and creamed. They can also be preserved by pickling.
The onion bulbs themselves look more like giant scallions or leeks. Each is about six inches long and an inch wide. Under the thin, papery skin of the Egyptian onion there’s a tough, pithy inner hide that is totally inedible. It can’t be eaten raw, and no matter how long it’s cooked it will still be woody. But hidden inside the tough woody layer is a juicy, succulent onion, the strongest and most pungent anywhere. It’s perfect for onion soup, or any other way you prepare cooking onions. If not dug up, the year-old underground onions will send up new green leaves to start the growth cycle allover again.
By summer, the set planted last year will have developed into two to five bulbs. Eventually, the old bulbs will rot and new ones will form in their place.