Wild About - Onions

Here is a good all-around food to forage - wild onions (Allium spp.). I think hardly a day goes by that I don't cook at least one dish using onions. Have you ever grown any sort of onion, even ornamental varieties in your garden? If so, you'll recognize the starburst of pink or white flowers. The variety shown in these pictures tends to nod toward the ground, making them especially easy to recognize.

With wild onion, any part that is tender is edible; the roots and flowers are particularly delicious. Use them in dishes as you would any onion. I cooked the bulbs up with roasted veg last night, and used the flowers in a salad.

This wild forage requires a note of caution. It is safest to harvest wild onions while they are flowering, so that you are sure to recognize them as onions; they resemble many toxic plants, particularly the death camas, when immature. The surest indication that you have an onion is the unmistakable onion smell, only onions smell like that (and be certain you aren't just smelling contamination on your fingers from previous picking).


Wow, we've now reached deep into the heart of the growing season. Take a look back at some of the other wonderful wild foods that I've collected this year.

Comments

  1. That is what scares me - that I would eat something called death camas! I need a forager mentor - hmm, I am on the lookout!

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  2. With wild foods, always exercise caution. But you'll find that with careful study, the poisonous counterparts very rarely closely resemble edible plants. Like with wild onions, all you really have to look for is onion scent. Everyone knows that, and it's a positive identifier. Easy peasy.

    But either way, I'd far prefer to take my chances with death camas, versus eating a bag of doritos, or an "energy bar", or the cereal they market toward kids... with wild plants, there's usually only one scary alternative to be on the watch for, and I can always choose not to ingest something.

    Industrial foods and big pharma are far scarier than death camas to me.

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  3. I haven't seen wild onions since I moved to Nevada, but it would be delightful to stumble upon some on a hike! It seems that no matter how many onions I plant it is not enough! Our consumption increases to match production. :)

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  4. I'm so impressed (what's new)! I really need to move to a "wilder" place...

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  5. Ditto, girlichef. I'm not sure I have the patience to learn all about death camas and all the other death-causing imitators, but I do like the idea of picking free, wild food. Maybe I just need a friend who's really into foraging, but hates cooking. Yeah, I think that's more my speed.

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  6. Death camas...scary! I am growing red onions in my garden but I would to forage like this...

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  7. Gotta say, I'm a little saddened by the fact that we, as a culture, would willingly ingest nutrasweet in order to save eating a few calories, but be dissuaded from eating wild onion because of death camas :(

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  8. You are my inspiration! I hope to one day go foraging with you! :)

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  9. One of my favorite wild snacks as a kid was just to dig these up and eat em! I have them in my lawn! lol--will find some and harvest away!

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  10. You have them in your lawn????? So jealous, what a resource! I often wonder what is the one food that I wouldn't want to live without, and I'm pretty sure it would be onions. They make everything taste better!

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