When I was outside with my daughter on the swingset, I saw some wild onions growing up out of the pea gravel. I’ve been watching these plants growing on our property each spring and have wanted to try eating them. It looks like free food offering itself to us. Today I did it and I share the results with you.
Are wild onions safe to eat?
I ate one, including the bulb and the attached greens. I’m feeling good.
“Any plant that smells like an onion or a garlic and LOOKS like an onion or a garlic is edible. If you do not smell a garlic or an onion odor beware you might have a similar-looking toxic plant.” Source: eattheweeds.com.
There is an imposter that resembles the onion and garlic and it is poisonous. What does the poisonous plant taste like? “it would taste awful and bitter: a sure sign the plant is not meant to eat.” Source: foodunderfoot.com.
This is good news then. Identifying wild onions seems fool-proof. If you find a wild onion and you can smell the characteristic onion smell, then you’re good to start chomping down. If you accidentally chomp down before smelling it, you should taste a difference and know something is not right and spit it out.
Onions, garlic, leeks, and shallots, including their wild forms, are all part of the Allium or onion genus. They are very nutritous and can help keep you safe from cancers and heart disease. The whole plant is edible. whfoods.com has lots of good news for onions and how they might keep us healthy.
How I Ate the Wild Onions.
Since this is my first time trying this wild plant, I tried to keep it safe by eating just one wild onion. Since I lived to tell the tale, I’ll harvest more wild onions next time I see them.
I took the wild onion, washed it in the sink, then chopped it up on a cutting board.
And then I sprinkled all the pieces over my dinner.
A recipe I would like to try: Potato/Wild Onion Soup
What Do Wild Onions Taste Like?
I ate the wild onion raw. The one I tried here in Arkansas, USA was mild. My first bite reminded me of a low-strength garlic. The greens were almost tasteless. After dinner was over, I continued to sense an onion flavor in my sinuses and mouth. The feeling lasted for about 12 hours, but my wife did not say anything so I guess it was not noticeable. This characteristic compound is what acts like medicine, keeping us healthy, so I was happy to get some for free. I believe it’s this lingering flavor that helps keep the head free of cancer and other disease.
I dug up some of the wild onions and transplanted them into my garden. This is a way of giving a favor back to this plant by letting it reproduce and multiply on my property.
The onions have been tamed now that they are in my garden, so I’m not sure if I should continue calling them “wild”. I will let the onions grow in the garden all summer and I will save the seed from the best plants. I would like to see how big the bulbs get in good soil.
I think the onion bulbs growing in the ground would be bigger if you cut the tops before the seeds form. Much of the plants energy is diverted to growing those seeds, which look like miniature onion bulbs. Cut off the top before the flower and seeds form and you should get a bigger onion bulb. The advantage to letting the plant make seeds is you can now have lots of seeds to grow this in a larger quantity in the fall. I will probably plant many of the seed back into the garden this fall when I plant garlic. We might eat some of the baby green onions in the winter or spring. And I might let some of them grow with harvesting, to let them get bigger and make seed again.
I just found free food! In my garden, I am growing chives, onions, and garlic, all at the same time. Meanwhile this Allium variety is growing wild with no effort by me. The wild variety probably offers a slightly different nutrition profile than the other varieties I am growing. It’s good to eat a wide variety of plants. I can add wild onions to my selection.