Wasting food is one of my pet peeves. In fact, our family goal is to waste no more than 3% of all the food which enters our home. Add to the fact that my food budget for a family of six is $375 a month, and you’ll see why we believe that “waste not want not” is a great mantra to live by.
When I visited my favorite ethnic food market a few days ago, the owner offered to sell me organic onions (most of which had sprouted) for a tremendously low price. I jumped at the chance.
I decided to follow a two-pronged approach in divvying up my great buy. I wanted to get the most out of the opportunity to have organic produce at a great price.
I began by sorting the onions into two piles, those which had long, healthy sprouts with the majority of the interior portion unusable and those which were in basically sound condition.
I used the “feel test” for my criteria. This is my absolutely unscientific process where I physically feel the bulb to see if it still retains most of its firmness. If I feel like the sprout is really long and had compromised my ability to use most of the onion, I put it in the “plant” pile. Use your own judgement as to which onions you will plant outside and which you will use, freeze, or dehydrate.
The onions which were still usable were cut up and dehydrated for later use.
Be sure to save the scraps to use in quick and easy homemade vegetable broth.
The rest were destined to be planted in my herb garden. The soil there is very workable, but may have too much shade for sun-loving onions. However, with a rainstorm imminently approaching, we needed to dig a space and get them in the ground in about 15 minutes.
I found a suitable spot, which was mostly bare from any plant material. We made quick work of the process, quickly cultivating the soil, breaking up the lumps of soil and planting the onions several inches apart.
Don’t plant them too deep. The tops should show above the soil.
Pack the soil nicely around the plant and water in (unless, like me you are running desperately for the house as the first drops of rain begin to fall.) I let the rainstorm to its job and didn’t have to water the baby plants.
I am the first to admit that I’m no gardener. Seriously! But, the idea of not wasting a single source of food is very appealing to me. So, I’m willing to learn more.
I’m not absolutely certain it I’ll wind up with some gloriously long onion tops to harvest later in the summer or if they will root underground and give me more onions in the fall. Either way, it’s a win! The plants were not usable to me either for cooking with now or for preserving for the future.
Planting sprouted onions is a great way to continue the circle of life, save money on food and insure that your family moves toward a zero food waste policy.