Wicked Welsh onions

For a blog to be successful there is a suggestion that, amongst other fine qualities, it must be updated regularly, and preferably, on the same day each week. I aim for a Sunday as this is a restful day when we chose to indulge in leisurely activities such as gardening and reading (and also because I know one particular reader enjoys this blog on a Sunday evening). However I am as erratic as the weather and rarely stick to the same day so today I will give myself a pat on the back because today is Sunday and here is my post.

For the last few months my house has been in chaos. Builders have knocked walls down, built rooms up, taken roof’s off put better ones on.  As a result my garden, allotment and my life has been a mess and not very much has been planted, tended or achieved. Without a kitchen cooking has been difficult, it’s a wonder the kid’s haven’t got scurvy with the diet they have endured! Sorry kids it will get better, I promise.

Living in these circumstances has made me appreciate the perennial edibles in my veggie patch that supply me with wholesome fodder without any involvement from me. There’s the rhubarb, which, as you know, I am trying hard to like, and there’s the fabulous Welsh onions that are positively thriving. Hurrah.

Welsh onions are a perennial onion, also referred to as Japanese bunching onions because they do just that, they bunch. Clusters of little bulblets produce hollow green stems that have a delicious onion flavour. The fleshy base of the plant can be eaten like a spring onion while the stems can be chopped and added to a variety of dishes (or just munched raw whilst gently hoeing). As the plant grows the flavour intensifies so be warned, even a little nibble may result in those uncontrollable onion tears.

 

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In May the plant produces pretty creamy coloured flowers that the bees absolutely adore. I always know mine are in flower by the eerie drone that comes from my veggie patch as the bees feast. Removing the flowers diverts the plants energy back into making bulbs but I like the bees so the flowers stay. In autumn the flowers set seed and these can be gathered and stored for sowing in pots next spring.

One of the things I love about Welsh onions is the amount of plant you get in a small space. For those with just a yard or balcony this plant is perfect as it is as happy in a pot as it is in the ground. Grow the onions in rich, well drained soil in a sunny spot and you will be harvesting from early spring to late autumn.

There is one more thing you need to know about Welsh onions. They are imposters, pretenders, through no fault of their own, they have been labelled Welsh. It’s easy to see why and no, it’s not because they resemble a leek, or look like a daffodil, it’s all down to the name. Welsh is a corruption of the word German word ‘Walsh’ meaning foreign, because this onion comes from much further afield. It has its roots in Siberia and is very popular in Asia, particularly Japan where it is an ingredient in the popular Miso soup. So perhaps it is best to refer to this onion as the Japanese bunching onion, it seems better suited.

As you know I like to give you readers a recipe that involves my blogging subject. This time I chose Japanese miso soup which includes the Japanese onion. But there I was, standing in the World Food aisle of the local supermarket, browsing the oriental section looking for dashi, miso paste and silken tofu and I realised I didn’t have a clue what I was looking for. I gave up. I realised that while I do know my onions, I have absolutely no idea about Japanese cuisine!

 

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