This week we are featuring a sweet springtime favorite, Vidalia Onions. If you have yet to give this particular variety a try you are in for a treat! Locally grown Vidalia Onions are amazing!
Here is the story of how the original sweet onion was developed in America beginning in the 1930’s until today:
What is now a deeply-entrenched summer tradition started out as a fluke. During the tough days of the Great Depression, farmers had high hopes of a new cash crop. These hard-working men had grown everything from corn to cotton in Georgia’s sandy soil, and onions seemed to hold some promise of better profits.
Imagine their surprise and concern when what grew was not an instant money-maker but a strange onion that wasn’t hot!
Alice and Moses Coleman (left)
Moses Coleman was one of the Vidalia onion pioneers from Toombs county.
Two key factors came about in the pioneering onion’s early history: a market and a “pig.” Shortly after South Georgia farmers unwittingly planted sweet onions, the state built a farmers’ market in the area. The new facility was not only located at the hub of several major roads, but also it was almost dead center among the bustling towns of Macon, Augusta, and Savannah. Word of “those sweet onions from Vidalia” began to spread throughout the state, and a name was born.
Soon, people were requesting that their relatives bring along the atypically sweet onions when they visited, and corporations like the local electric company would pass them along as gifts to their clients. “Vidalias” were destined for greatness!
As fortune would have it, Piggly Wiggly grocery store happened to be headquartered in Vidalia. Recognizing the potential of the peculiar produce, the gentlemen who ran “The Pig” gladly helped farmers from all over the Vidalia area get their newfound sweeties on store shelves.
As their onion began its ascent to national fame, local support soared. Vidalia onions had their own annual festival in Glennville, Georgia by 1977 and in Vidalia, Georgia by 1978, traditions that continues today.
In 1990, Vidalia onions became the Official State Vegetable of Georgia. From the local market in the 1940s to the national super stores of today, the popularity of Vidalia Onions continues to escalate.
No longer just a “southern thing,” Vidalia Onions are available in 50 states and most of Canada.
So, next time you’re on the way to a spring barbeque or summer picnic, stock up on Vidalia Onions. They’re as synonymous with these warm seasons as iced tea and watermelon slices!
Article and photos shared from the Vidalia Onion Committee.
Vidalia Onions can be used in your favorite sweet onion recipes. The Vidalia Onion Committee has a fun recipe tool that allows you to pick your main ingredient and then the category to search endless recipe ideas.
Here are a few ways I will be using my Vidalia Onions this week in case you need a little brain storming inspiration:
● Vegetable & Asian Noodle cold salad (that I will be serving with Grilled chicken, Grilled Pineapple and Coconut Lime Rice.
● Grilled with Bell Peppers and local natural beef for Fajitas.
● In a Scramble with mushrooms, bell pepper and topped with shredded local Jersey Gem (baby cheddar) cheese and chopped green onions.
● In a salad along with spinach, sliced almonds, dried cranberries, local feta style cheese (Jersey Dream) and raspberry vinaigrette.
● On my home made wheat crust mini pizzas with each persons other favorite veggie toppings and Muir Glen Pizza Sauce. (It’s summer break and I have lots of kids!)
● On Kabobs with chicken breast meat, bell pepper, mushrooms and served with my favorite springtime lemon and herb rice. (Mix in freshly squeezed lemon juice, finely chopped Italian Parsley and Finely chopped green onions.)
● In Grilled Sandwiches with organic Ham.
● Roasted along with Garlic, chopped and mixed into tomato sauce. Served over pasta with home made French bread that is topped with parmesan and browned.