Using Sprouted Onions

Is it OK to cook with sprouted onions?

We tasted sprouted onions that we chopped and gently cooked in oil until softened, comparing them with onions with no sprouts prepared the same way. All tasters found the sprouted alliums less sweet and flavorful, and some also found them a bit more fibrous than their unsprouted counterparts. Though the sprouts themselves bore a physical resemblance to chives and scallions, tasters deemed them unpleasantly bitter rather than grassy and pungent.

Why the difference? Sprouts use the sugar stored in the parent onion as an energy source, so as the sprouts grow, the onion flesh loses sweetness. Sprouting also causes the onion to lose moisture, making it seem tougher and stringier.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Cook sprouted onions as soon as possible after the sprouts appear, since the flavor and texture of the onion will only continue to deteriorate. And that green bit? Resist the temptation to use it in your food; garnish the compost pile with it instead.

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