Thursday 10 June 2010

Growing Spring Onions for FREE!

Spring onions(also known as scallions, salad onions or 葱) are absolutely essential in Chinese cooking - my mum uses them as a garnish atop almost everything from clear broths to Hainanese white-cut chicken*. I am a little less organised and don't usually have time to garnish my meals, so I tend to slice them up into longer pieces and use them in dishes like stir fried beef with spring onions and ginger.

Recycled Spring Onions growing amidst Coriander in the 'Chinese' wing of our Garden
Anyhow, spring onions are one of those quiet but remarkably generous vegetables that are always having a secret sale for those in the know, and that's the 'buy-one-get-more-free' sale. 

Have you ever noticed that whenever you buy spring onions from your local grocer, they have their roots still intact? Well, usually these end up in the compost or in the rubbish bin.  But thanks to a tip from my mum, I have learnt that if you put the root back into the ground, well, by a miracle of nature, it will start growing again and you will soon have new spring onions.  

I love it!! Not only am I recycling the roots and reducing waste but I get the benefit of more spring onions on-demand. 

What you need to do:
1. Cut off the roots of the spring onions as you normally would, but leave an approximate 3cm root end

2. Bury the root ends back into some soil with the white portion slightly sticking out (either in the ground or into a container)

3. Wait a few days and you will see it develop a new shoot

4. A few weeks later, you should be able to harvest new spring onion tips!

Note: This method is only useful if you want to harvest the upper green portion as the white portion will be not really be edible.

Try it out and with all that spring onion root waste reduction, we might actually be able to save the planet....!

*Hainanese white cut chicken (海南雞) is a Malaysian Chinese style of cooking chicken where you boil the entire chicken in a ginger and garlic broth. It is then cut into pieces served with its white/pale yellow skin with bones intact.

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