Celebrate a sweet Vidalia onion season with these recipes

Vidalia onions. HANDOUT



Vidalia onions. HANDOUT

April 17 was this year’s official Vidalia onion pack date as determined by Georgia Agricultural Commissioner Tyler Harper in coordination with the Vidalia Onion Committee.

It’s the date when farmers can begin loading up bags and boxes of the official state vegetable of the Peach State and get them on the road to a store near you. The sweet variety has a notably short season that runs from May to August.

Vidalias have a happy accident origin story: In 1932, after a Vidalia farmer named Mose Coleman lost his white onion crop due to frost, he planted a Texas-grown variety called the Grano 502. The onion came up sweet instead of hot thanks to Vidalia’s unique soil.

Vidalia Onion Hush Puppies at Lure. CONTRIBUTED BY HENRI HOLLIS

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It’s also a trademarked crop that can only be grown in 20 counties in the state. So, while all Vidalias are sweet onions, not all sweet onions can claim to be Vidalias.

Matt McCarthy, the executive chef at Murphy’s in Virginia-Highland, said he looks forward to Vidalia onion season each year.

“Onions are such a foundation of all cooking, and then to get a delivery of the best ones you can buy, it’s pretty exciting,” he said. “They have such a good sweetness to them.”

The restaurant received its first shipment of Vidalias from Shuman Farms in Reidsville, Georgia, on April 18. Starting April 23, two dishes featuring the onions will be added to the menu, and will stay on through at least July.

A Vidalia onion soup will see the onions cooked down with garlic and potato, blended with housemade creme fraiche and topped with crispy cheddar cheese and chives.

“We wanted to take the traditional potato and onion soup and flip it so that the onion is the star,” McCarthy said.

He’ll also offer an onion flatbread that will incorporate Vidalia onions in several ways, including using them in a soubise sauce with vinegar, and onion trimmings and skins will be burned to make an ash that will be mixed into a honey and drizzled on the bread.

Want to brush up on more Vidalia onion fun facts? Author Mark Kurlansky passionately devotes an entire chapter to it in his 2023 book “The Core of an Onion.” You can also watch its story come to life on the screen. “Sweet Vidalia” is a two-part special on the RFD-TV Network show “Where the Food Comes From” (DirecTV, Dish, Cable, Sling). Part 1 aired April 12. Part 2 airs April 19. And you can try Vidalia onions for yourself with these products, or indulge in an event celebrating all things Vidalia at the Vidalia Onion Festival, held April 25-28.

Ready to grab your own bag and start cooking? For inspiration, we’ve compiled of our favorite Vidalia onion recipes – from batter-fried rings to sweet bread pudding.

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