Vidalia onions are finally back, officially sanctioned to be sold in grocery stores and farmers market after 8 a.m. April 20. We’ve got some suggestions for enjoying the onions fresh and on two Georgia Grown products that capitalize on the sweet, distinctive flavor of one of our favorite seasonal treats.
Vidalia Onions Fresh from Southeast Georgia
We look forward to it every spring, the arrival of Georgia’s official state vegetable - the Vidalia onion. Each year Georgia’s Commissioner of Agriculture consults with a range of folks and then determines the “pack date,” which is the first date the state’s 80 registered growers can release the onions for us to enjoy. This year it was April 20 so now's the time to stock up. To make the onions last as long as possible, store them in a place that’s cool and dry and keep the onions separated. Do you remember being told to tie your onions into pantyhose, knotting between each onion? There’s not as much pantyhose available these days, so store your Vidalias in the refrigerator, wrapping each in a paper towel. Treated that way, they can last up to a year. But they also freeze really well - chopped, sliced or even whole - and then can be used in any recipe calling for cooked onions. And if you want to eat your Vidalia raw, we suggest giving it a little soak in ice water for about 30 minutes. Then you really can bite into it just like an apple.
Available after April 20 at grocery stores, farmers markets and farm stands throughout Georgia and the U.S. http://vidaliaonion.org.
You Saucy Thing from Chinese Southern Belle
This handcrafted soy-ginger-garlic-Vidalia onion sauce is made by Chinese Southern Belle of Smyrna. All their sauces are based on family recipes and You Saucy Thing is a variation of Natalie Keng’s grandmother’s “instant” saute sauce, using Vidalias instead of green onion. It creates a sauce that works as a marinade, a stir fry sauce, a steak sauce or to dress grilled vegetables. We liked the way the thick texture worked in a quick vegetable stir fry. When we served it on spiralized zucchini noodles, the rich flavor overcame any concerns we were serving our guests “diet” food. This is one of Chinese Southern Belle’s Asian Chef Sauce Trio which includes My Sweet Hottie (a sweet chili peach sauce) and Wild Wild East, a BBQ and teriyaki glaze with pineapple molasses.
$7.99 per 8-ounce bottle. Available in the condiments or international food aisles at Atlanta area Whole Foods Markets, in the Georgia Grown section of select Kroger stores and at Cook’s Warehouse. Buy it online or check out the store locator at https://chinesesouthernbelle.com/ where you’ll also find videos and dozens of recipes.
Vidalia Balsamic Chutney from Alta Cucina Italia
We sample lots of products in our search for things that are worth adding to your pantry. The Vidalia Onion and Balsamic Vinegar Jam from Alta Cucina Italia gathered more favorable reviews than any other item we’ve tried. The rich flavor of slowly caramelized Vidalia onions was a winner for everyone who tried this jam. There’s sweetness and a bit of acidity from the balsamic vinegar, but the onions truly are the star. Mostly it was enjoyed on cream cheese-topped crackers but we used the final few teaspoons as a glaze on pan-seared pork chops. Adriana Coppola of A&A Alta Cucina in John’s Creek makes a wide range of artisan condiments and sauces in Italian style. This one was a finalist in the 2018 Flavor of Georgia contest and a winner of a 2018 Good Food Award. It’s definitely a winner in our kitchen as well.
$10 per 4-ounce jar. Available at the Sandy Springs Farmers Market, Calyroad Creamery in Sandy Springs and through Amazon Fresh or at http://altacucinaitalia.com.