Wild Onion: Foraging and Recipes
When I actually think about it, wild onions are probably my actual first exposure to wild foods. While us kids would pull out regular old grass to chew the tender white portion at the bottom of each blade, we were thrilled to discover the tall hollow tufts of grass that smelled and tasted just like real onion. Wild onions are extremely common and one of the first wild foods to grow in spring. Might as well make the most of them!
LOOK: In yards and fields. Avoid areas that may have been treated with pesticides and fertilizer.
COLLECT: While you CAN collect the bulbs of wild onions, it is hard to pull them out clean in the compacted soil of a yard, and there is not much reward for the effort. Bulbs are generally no bigger than pea at best and will require cleaning to remove dirt. In my own experience, over an hour’s worth of work yielded only a disappointing handful of teeny tiny onion bulbs. In my opinion, not worth it. The tops however, are easy to collect and wash and are very similar to chives. Experts caution that there is a mildly toxic plant that closely resembles the wild onion, however it is easy enough to tell which is which. Wild onions smell like onion. The toxic plant doesn’t. Not even close.
USE: Wild onion bulbs (if you are determined to take the time to prepare them) can be treated like tiny cocktail onions – sautéed or pickled, or even used raw. The green top portion of the onion can be used in place of chives in a recipe.