Sunday 4 March 2012

Occupe-toi de tes oignons !

Literally, 'busy yourself with your onions' ie 'mind your own business'.

I find myself minding my French onions (in both senses probably) most days. Proper French yellow Mulhouse type onions are my favourites for cooking. They are often a flattened sphere rather than bauble shaped and are usually a bit more expensive than other types. I don't know what exact variety they are as a general rule in the shops, but we grow one called Stuttgarter Reisen which seems to be what is commonly available in the garden sections of the local bricos. They look exactly like these ones that I bought at the market, and perform very well if we get some rain (as opposed to none at all in their growing period last year).

These onions are very much sweeter than their round rivals and make by far the best onion gravies, tarts and marmalades. They are a bit softer at the stem end, so don't have quite as good a storage life as hard round onions and for that reason are not generally exported. If you want real French onions outside of France you will probably have to grow your own.

They are called Mulhouse onions after the town in Alsace where they were developed. Mulhouse (pronounced 'moolooz') has an annual onion festival in September at which you can eat your fill of onion soup and onion tart. The town's other claim to fame is the remarkable Automobile Museum.



Tim said...

Mulhouse are probably a Stuttgarter onion... they are the most common, flat-bulbed variety... and an should be an extremely good keeper. I had a Stuttgarter onion for two years with only a little shrinkage... no, it wasn't a test... he'd won the Best-Dressed Onion competition at the allotments... and, oddly enough.. won again the second year... he was wearing top hat& tails and carried a cane!

I have seen Mulhouse-Stuttgarter and Stuttgarter Reisen and just plain Stuttgarter being used as the label on seed onions... all from Holland, too, I might add!!

The softness around the stem end could be from being harvested too early and not being allowed to dry off properly, before being trussed.

Emma said...

I planted ours out the other day - some salad red onions and some simple 'jaune' Dutch ones. I feel like I need some of these beauties now, so I'll look out for them!

Pollygarter said...

The other flat variety you often see is Jaune Paille de Vertus - they did well for us last year. Many onion sets & shallots sold in both France and Britain actually come from Holland!

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