Vidalia onions are prized for their sweetness and lack of heat, and they are unique to a 20-county area of Georgia. The vegetable is available from late April through mid-September in grocery stores across the country.
VIDALIA ONION RECIPES:
Use Chicken Stock for Braised Onions
Slow Roasted Vidalia Onions Recipe With Local Honey
Recipe for Grilled Onions
Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder Recipe
Georgia Peach and Vidalia Onion Summer Salad
Caramelized Vidalia Onion Bread Pudding Recipe
According to the Vidalia Onion Committee, the discovery of the Vidalia was an accident. During the Great Depression, Georgia farmers were hoping for a new cash crop, and onions held a promise of better profits than previous crops of corn or cotton. What they harvested, though, wasn’t what they were expecting; the onions didn’t have any fire to them. The South Georgia farmers were perplexed.
The state happened to build a farmers’ market in Vidalia, Georgia, a small town built in 1890 and located along the border of Toombs and Montgomery counties. The Old Vidalia Farmers’ Market was located in the center of the area bordered by the towns of Macon, August and Savannah, and it was the perfect place for the Southern Georgia farmers to sell their unusual onions. It wasn’t long before word of mouth drew crowds to the market for “those sweet onions from Vidalia.”
The Piggly Wiggly grocery chain was headquartered in Vidalia, and the farmers soon found an ally in the store’s officials, who gladly helped to get the sweet onions on store shelves.
The first Vidalia Onion Festival was held in 1977 in Glenville, and then in 1978, the traditional festival was held in Vidalia. In 1990, the Vidalia onion was named Georgia’s official state vegetable — quite a journey for a so-called “mistake” of a crop.
More recipes can be found through the Vidalia Onion Committee.
Read more: Now that you can cook with onions, learn the basics about harvesting your own in Growing Onions the Easy Way.