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Boiling Onions

Boiling Onions are normal onions that are harvested when they are still young and small. They will have pretty much the characteristics of what their fully grown selves would have; but most are pretty sharp in taste, which mellows as they are slowly cooked. Some are even sharper than others.

They are allowed to grow a bit larger than pearl onions, up to 1 1/2 and 13/4 inches wide (3.5 to 4.5 cm.) They can have white skin, yellow or red skin.

Though any onion can be harvested early and called a Boiling Onion, some varieties of onions are preferred commercially. For white-skinned Boiling Onions, for instance, Southport White Globe is a preferred variety. For yellow ones, Australian Brown, Stuttgart, or Yellow Ebenezer.

Cooking Tips

Boiling Onions are meant to be added and cooked whole. They are intended for slow cooking in stews, soups, casseroles. Recipes such as Boeuf Bourguignon and Coq au Vin will call for them. They can also be used whole on kebabs.

However you are cooking them, cook until soft.

If you are peeling a lot of Boiling Onions, which are small and fiddly, you can speed up the process by "cold shocking" them. Cut off the tops and the bottoms, then blanch them for up to two minutes, then drain, and dump into very cold water to stop the cooking. When they are cooled, you can just squeeze them to pop them out of their skins. Before cooking with them, make a very small X about 1/4 of an inch (1/2 cm) deep at the bottom of each onion: it will help to hold them together during cooking.


Pearl onions; Shallots; Quartered onions

Storage Hints

Can be stored for up to a month.

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Also called:

Boilers; Sweet Boilers


See also:


Apaz Onions; Banana Shallots; Boiling Onions; Calçot Spring Onions; Chives; Chopping Onions; Cipollini Onions; Cocktail Onions; Easy Baked Rosemary Onions Recipe; Green Onions; Grelot Onions; Intermediate-Day Onions; Leeks; Long-Day Onions; Onion Powder; Onion Slicing Guide; Onions; Pickled Onions; Ramps; Red Onions; Red Spring Onions; Scallions; Shallot; Short-Day Onions; Sweet Onions; Yellow Globe Danvers Onions

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-- Pliny the Elder (23 – 79 AD)

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