What are Vidalia Onions?

by Digby_Adams

Grown in only 20 Georgia counties, Vidalia onions are sweet and flavorful. They prized as gourmet onions around the world.

According to the law, both Georgia and Federal, an onion must be grown in certain Geogia counties to be called a Vidalia Onion. Why is this so strict? Well just like the wine regions of France, the Vidalia onion growers want to protect the quality of their brand. It takes a precise combination of weather and soil to produce the unique sweetness that goumets and regular-folk onion lovers around the world expect from Vidalia onions.

There are only 100 registered Vidalia onion growers, who plant 12,000 acres of Vidalia onions every growing season. Each acre requires 80,000 onion seedlings. And  98% of Vidalia onions are harvested by hand.

Every Vidalia onion starts out as a yellow granex hybrid seed. Now if you think that you're going to buy some of these seeds and have your own sweet Georgia onions, you'll be disappointed. I tried growing them in my Maine garden, and it didn't turn out well!

Georgia onion growers plant the seeds first in seedbeds (I did this as well, it didn't help) to protect them from the cold and weeds. Then in September the seedlings are transplanted into the onion fields.They'll stay through the winter until harvested in May. Just like with our New England maple syrup it's those temperatures that make those Vidalia onions soooo sweet.

Vidalia Onions are from Southest Georgia

Official Vidalia Onion Growing Region
Official Vidalia Onion Growing Region
University of Georgia

Vidalia Onion Counties

Farms anywhere in the following 13 Georgia counties - Emanuel, Candler, Treutlen, Bulloch, Wheeler, Montgomery, Evans, Tattnall, Toombs, Telfair, Jeff Davis, Appling, Bacon - can grow Vidalia onions . But in the following 7 Georgia counties - Jenkins, Screven, Laurens, Dodge, Pierce, Wayne, Long - only farmers in certain parts of the county are allowed to call their sweet Georgia onions Vidalia onions. Don't confuse Sweet Georgia Onions with Vidalia Onions. They aren't the same onion - but they are delicious!

Vidalia Onion Festivals

If you're a regional food lover, then you've got to visit Georgia during the Vidalia Onion harvest season. You know when you're getting close because there is a wonderful fresh onion scent, everywhere! My husband and I have made the trek to Georgia to enjoy the festivities first hand. There are parades, exhibitions, lots of onion food stalls. You'll love sampling the dishes made by the Georgia ladies. If you're smart you'll pick up their cookbooks. Because you will be able to buy Vidalia onions in your supermarket. Each year about 5 million 40-pound boxes of Vidalia onions are shipped to onion lovers everywhere.

Vidalia Onion Museum

Please take the time to visit the Vidalia Onion Museum. Matt, my husband, and I spent an entire afternoon there. The histoy of agiculture is very much the history of the United States; and the good people of Vidalia, Georgia dug into their attics and barns to bring us an authentic look at their local history.

You see antique farm equipment and learn how onions were harvested. But you'll also see the actual correspondence that explains how the modern Vidalia Onion came to be. It is a unique glimpse into the creation of a gourmet phenom.

Updated: 07/18/2014, Digby_Adams
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terrilorah on 03/21/2012

I love Vidallia's and try to use them as much as I can. Thanks for all the info, had no idea there was a museum.

Holistic_Health on 10/23/2011

Onions are a gift from God and I put them on anything I can. Vidalias are my favorite.

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