Wednesday, August 28, 2013

How to store Vidalia Onions

The fields that were bursting with vibrant onion tops this spring are now patiently waiting to produce the sweetest crop of 2014. Vidalia season is nearing an end for this year, but with a little careful storage, sweet onion time can stretch into the holidays. These onions are not only special in Georgia, but they are also prized all over the country. No matter where you live, a little Vidalia Onion know-how can lend these famous sweet onions to shine on the Christmas table.

Because Vidalia Onions have a higher moisture content than other onions, they tend to have a shorter shelf life. There are numerous storage options to make them last longer. The key to remember is keeping them cool, dry and giving them lots of air flow.


Storage Solutions for Long-lived Vidalia Onions

1. Wrap each onion loosely in paper towels or aluminum foil and store in the refrigerator.

2. Quickly remove from the bunch any onions that may have gone bad. They will encourage others to take the same turn.

3. Store onions on a cooling rack in a dark, cool closet or in a basement. Leave room between onions so they don’t touch.

4. Fill legs of clean pantyhose with onions. Tie a knot between each onion to separate. Hang in a dark, cool closet.

5. Keep onions away from the potatoes. They don’t get along as well as everything thinks.

If storing the summer's onions for months to come isn't a choice you'd make, freeze now and enjoy later. Chop onions and spread on a rimmed baking sheet and place in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer onion pieces to a large zip-top bag and freeze. Cook your favorite Vidalia recipes while onions are still plentiful and freeze for later.
Dinner is then much closer on busy nights and not one precious Vidalia has gone to waste. Try my freezer friendly recipes below.

Oats and Bacon Meat Loaf
2 pounds lean ground beef (7% fat)
3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup diced Vidalia Onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 eggs
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 slices bacon

Preheat the oven to 400˚F.

Mix the beef, oats, onion, garlic, eggs, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl.

Using your hands is the easiest and fastest way to mix.

Pack the beef mixture into a 4 1/2 by 8 1/2-inch loaf pan.

Cut the bacon slices into 4-inch pieces so they will fit on top of the meat loaf without hanging over.

Place the loaf pan on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 60 minutes or until a meat thermometer registers 160˚F.

Serves 6

Freezing instructions: Line loaf pan with plastic wrap before filling with meatloaf mixture. Pack meat into pan (do not top with bacon), cover with addition plastic wrap. Freeze until solid, about 8 hours. Use wrap to remove frozen meatloaf from the pan. Seal in a large zip-top plastic bag. Freeze for up to 3 months. To thaw, unwrap frozen meatloaf, fit in loaf pan, and place in refrigerator overnight to thaw.
Top with bacon and cook as directed.

Recipe from Quick-Fix Southern by Rebecca Lang
(Andrews McMeel, 2011)

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup

2 large butternut squash (about 2 1⁄4 lb. each)
1⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
1⁄2 tsp. salt
1⁄4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 large Vidalia Onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1⁄2 tsp. curry powder
1⁄8 tsp. ground red pepper
3 1⁄2 cups chicken broth
1⁄3 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp. honey
1⁄2 tsp. salt
Garnishes: creme fraiche, fresh pomegranate seeds, freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400°. Cut squash in half lengthwise; remove and discard seeds.

Arrange, cut sides up, in a jelly-roll pan. Rub cut sides with 2 Tbsp. olive oil.

Sprinkle with salt and black pepper.

Bake at 400° for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until very tender when pierced with a fork.

Cool slightly, and scoop out pulp. Discard peels.

Heat remaining 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat.

Add onion; saute 7 to 8 minutes or until translucent. Add garlic; saute 2 minutes.

Add squash, curry, and red pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. Stir in chicken broth.

Process mixture with a handheld blender until smooth. Stir in cream and next 2 ingredients.

Simmer 5 minutes.

Divide among bowls or cups. Garnish, if desired.

Makes: 8 cups

Freezing Instructions: Freeze soup before adding cream, honey, and salt, in freezer-safe containers or a large heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag. Freeze for up to 4 months. Thaw overnight in refrigerator. Bring to a simmer in a large Dutch oven. Add cream, honey, and salt before serving.

Recipe from Around the Southern Table  by Rebecca Lang
(Oxmoor House, 2012)

Chicken Spinach Burritos

1 rotisserie chicken
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained well
1 (10-ounce) can tomatoes and green chiles, drained
1 small Vidalia onion, diced
1 cup small curd cottage cheese
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup pickled jalapeño slices, diced
4 cups preshredded Mexican cheese blend
18 (6-inch) flour tortillas

Preheat the oven to 350˚F.

Lightly spray 2 (9 by 13-inch) baking dishes with nonstick cooking spray.

Remove the skin from the chicken and pull the meat off the bone. Use your fingers to shred the meat by pulling it apart in strips.

Stir together the chicken, spinach, tomatoes and green chiles, Vidalia onion, cottage cheese, sour cream, salt, jalapeños, and 1 1/2 cups of cheese in a large mixing bowl.

Spoon about 1/4 cup of the mixture down the center of each flour tortilla. Roll up and place, seam-side down, in the prepared baking dishes. Sprinkle half of the remaining cheese (1 1/4 cups per casserole) on top of each dish.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Serves 16 (Makes 2 casseroles)

Freezing Instructions:
Cover casseroles with plastic wrap before baking. Wrap well to seal out as much air as possible. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw casseroles overnight in refrigerator. Remove from refrigerator and set on counter for 30 minutes. Bake uncovered at 350˚F for 40 minutes.

Recipe from Quick-Fix Southern by Rebecca Lang
(Andrews McMeel, 2011)

Copyright 2013 Rebecca Lang Cooks, LLC. All rights reserved.

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