When you think about it, an onion’s life isn’t a whole lot different than ours. Consider the various stages of the onion as it appears on our market tables, for example, beginning with slender green onions.

Okay, so the onions stacked on the corner of the table in this picture are actually of a variety that’s grown specifically for green onions, ones that will never bulb. These are not small versions of our main crop Yellow Granex. Blame the misrepresentation on the resident photographer (ahem…me) who didn’t bother to snap a shot of our Granex babes when we were pulling those earlier in the spring. Hopefully you still get the idea.

See, a couple months or so after we plant thousands of teensy onions starts,

we begin pulling them as green onions. Green in color; green in the ways of the world. Their short lives have been pretty easy and it shows. Their skin remains smooth, having never been marred by the ravages of too much sun, too much rain or heaven forbid, the heartbreak of psoriasis (aka thrip damage). We bring these fresh-faced youngsters to market untouched, intact from their roots to the tips of their leaves.

As time passes, the onions begin to develop bulbs (pardon me if this is getting a little too PG-rated) and with this change comes the inevitable blemishes. (It’s such an awkward stage, isn’t it?) These onions require some serious trimming of those otherwise freakishly long, gangly greens. Once that’s done, the burgeoning beauty of an adolescent onion is undeniable.

In my humble opinion, however, the later chapters of an onion’s life are its best. Perhaps that’s because I can relate. There’s no question that I (as well as everyone else who works on the farm) often end the day as dirty as a recently unearthed onion,

yet the similarities go even further than that.

Before the fully-aged onions are pulled from the ground and piled alongside the rows to dry a bit;

before they’re carefully laid out on the concrete floor where they rest for a day or two;

and before the greens are cut off and they’re allowed to “cure” a little while longer until we remove the roots and box them for storage,

the mature onions go a little soft around the middle. They choose to lie down and relax.

That’s not to say they’ve lost their vitality! Heaven’s no. They’ll stick around a good long while after their decision to take it easy for the remainder of their existence. Granted, once they’ve reached this stage their skin has gone from soft and pliable to papery and wrinkly (no amount of moisturizer will prevent it), yet such is the way of life isn’t it? While the maturation process slowly strips away the vigor and glow of youth, it brings with it the wisdom to recognize that what’s most important is one’s inner self.

And the inside of a Yellow Granex onion is absolutely delicious.

* * *

Here’s what we wizened old farmers will have for you this Wednesday (and remember — there’s additional street parking along Bell Avenue, just south of the Asian Center on the same side of the road):

Early Girl and Bella Rosa tomatoes, Asian cucumbers (two varieties); new potatoes (both Yukon Golds and Red LaSoda); three varieties of squash (zucchini, Zephyr and yellow); sweet Yellow Granex and Red Creole “mature” onions; fresh elephant garlic; purple beets and golden beets; hopefully some more peaches (the last we heard, the ‘peach people’ do indeed have more to bring); and a bit of this and that.

Thanks!
Jo Dwyer
Angel Valley Organic Farm
Farm stands:
Saturdays 9:00-1:00 in Jonestown on FM 1431 at the blinking yellow light; and
Wednesdays 10:00-2:00 in NW Austin at the Asian American Center, 11713 Jollyville Road (1-1/2 blocks north of the intersection of Jollyville and Duval)

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