What are Green Onions?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Spring onions are green onions with long green leaves at one end and a white bulb at the other.
Spring onions are green onions with long green leaves at one end and a white bulb at the other.

One of the over twelve hundred types of allium, or onions, in the world, green onions are a simple and versatile way of adding a mild onion flavor to many dishes. Sometimes referred to as scallions or spring onions, this vegetable is simply an onion that is harvested before maturity is reached. At this stage, the green tops of the onion have achieved the dark hue that indicates a desirable level of flavor while still retaining a tender texture.

Green onions are harvested before they're mature, and are available year-round.
Green onions are harvested before they're mature, and are available year-round.

One of the great things about green onions is that they are often available year round. With a taste and texture that is different from a mature onion, the spring onion can be served in a number of different ways. It is possible to chop the greens into small pieces for salads and as a garnish, grill the entire onion as a side dish, or use the chopped pieces as part of a casserole.

Finely chopped green onions can be added to a vegetable salad.
Finely chopped green onions can be added to a vegetable salad.

Choosing quality green onions is not a difficult task. When shopping for this type of scallion, make sure the small root on the onion plant is white and relatively firm. The green tops should be crisp and show little to no wilting. Keep in mind that it is best to purchase these vegetables shortly before use, as the onions will usually begin to wilt within a day or two. Placing the onions in a tightly sealed plastic bag can slow this process. Store the bag in the vegetable crisper compartment of the refrigerator. Generally, this will allow the green onions to remain usable for up to five days.

Scallions may be used as a substitute for chives in many dishes.
Scallions may be used as a substitute for chives in many dishes.

Green onions can be a wonderful way to dress up prepackaged foods. Adding chopped green onions to condensed chicken noodle soup will add both flavor and visual interest. They are also a great way to dress a baked potato. Even rice or mashed potatoes can benefit from the addition of green onions to the finished dish. Best of all, these vegetables tend to be very inexpensive and widely available at most supermarkets.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including DelightedCooking, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including DelightedCooking, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments

anon67919

Thank you. I didn't know the difference between scallions and shallots, WiseGEEK told me.

mendocino

I agree with green onions over rice add a nice touch and flavor. Onions grow well in company of strawberries and tomatoes. They are also good grown with roses.

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    • Spring onions are green onions with long green leaves at one end and a white bulb at the other.
      Spring onions are green onions with long green leaves at one end and a white bulb at the other.
    • Green onions are harvested before they're mature, and are available year-round.
      Green onions are harvested before they're mature, and are available year-round.
    • Finely chopped green onions can be added to a vegetable salad.
      Finely chopped green onions can be added to a vegetable salad.
    • Scallions may be used as a substitute for chives in many dishes.
      Scallions may be used as a substitute for chives in many dishes.