A basic ingredient in most recipes, onions are sure to be on the shopping lists of every customer at the farmers’ market. As a producer, providing onions that have unique characteristics will help them stand out from the crowd and draw in potential customers who are ready to make a purchase. These varieties are not only attractive, each is ideal for specific applications in the kitchen. Selling one or more of these provides the opportunity to connect with shoppers, educate customers on how to best use these onions at home, and make a sale that will keep them coming back for more.
1. Red Candy Apple
The vibrant-red to deep-purple skin of this onion is sure to catch the eye of shoppers. Its medium size makes it an ideal market onion that appeals to buyers who need to purchase more than one or two at a time. True to the name, this is a sweet variety that is perfect to eat raw as a topping for grilled burgers and salads or when chopped and added to chicken or potato salad.
2. Red Cipollini
Not only does variation in onion color and size make an appealing market display, but shape also adds another element of interest. For that reason, Red Cipollini onions make a striking addition to your table. The flattened bulb grows into a 1- to 3-inch disk with a beautiful, purple skin. The flavor is slightly pungent, so while a true onion lover might enjoy it raw, it’s best when pickled, chopped and sprinkled on tacos, or roasted with other root vegetables.
3. Tropeana Lunga
The Tropeana Lunga will surely draw in the customers that Red Cipollini onions don’t. This Italian, torpedo-shaped onion has red skin and translucent, purple flesh. Its shape makes it easy to work with in the kitchen, which can be appealing to cooking novices. It’s best eaten fresh, and the shape allows cooks to create small, thin rings of onion slices, which are stunning on top of salads. It’s also ideal minced in salad dressings and used in fresh salsas.
4. Ailsa Craig
This heirloom variety will gain attention at the market for its impressive size: Some have been known to grow up to 6 pounds each! It provides a nice variation from the standard Walla Walla onion variety, popular in northern states. Ailsa Craig onions can be eaten raw due to their mild, sweet flavor, but the size makes them ideal when cooks need a significant quantity of onion, such as when canning a large batch of salsa. The size and flavor also make them a great option for onion rings.
5. White Sweet Spanish
The bright-white, globe-shaped bulb of this onion variety will complement the reds, yellows and greens on your display table. Despite the name, this onion has a mild yet robust flavor, making it ideal in recipes that require some cooking, such as stir-fries or casseroles, or when caramelized for a sandwich topping. With a longer storage life of up to six months, this is also an ideal onion for customers who want to stock up and have onions on hand throughout the season.
6. Super Star
The Super Star makes a good substitution for the White Sweet Spanish when you need an onion that is more day-length neutral. This variety does well in almost any region. It is also sweeter and milder than the White Sweet Spanish, making it a better fit for eating raw, but equally as delicious when cooked. The only downfall is that it has a shorter storage life, usually fewer than two months.
7. Tokyo Long White
This heirloom Japanese variety is a bunching onion that resembles a slender leek. It grows to 12 to 15 inches in length, and its pure-white bottom will grab shoppers’ eyes. The white portion adds a mild, pungent flavor to salads or salsas and guacamole, but it quickly sweetens when sautéed for fried rice or noodle dishes. The chopped greens add a pleasant flavor to coleslaws or when stirred into creamy mashed potatoes.
Get more farmers’ market help from HobbyFarms.com:
- 6 Questions You Should Know How to Answer at the Farmers’ Market
- 8 Tips for Beginning Farmers’ Market Vendors
- 5 Ways to Make Your Market Booth More Professional
- How to Make Money Selling Rabbit at the Farmers’ Market
- 11 Tips to Successful Farm Marketing
About the Author: Lori Rice is a nutritionist, writer, recipe developer and author of The Everything Guide to Food Remedies (Adams Media, 2011). She shares her recipes, food photography and travel adventures on her blog, www.fakefoodfree.com.