When life sprouts your onions, stick them in the dirt!

I ordinarily buy onions in bulk in the large sack. I cook with onions every day, but try as I might, I usually don’t use up the onions before green sprouts start emerging from the bulbs.

Our last trip to a “big store” was about a month ago. When we got down to the last four onions in the sack, every single one of them had a huge bunch of sprouts coming out of the top. It literally looked like a bunch of green onions growing from a sweet Vidalia.

How most of the remaining onions looked.

The sprouts grew much quicker than usual, and I’m guessing it’s because we’ve had some springtime weather and the onions knew it. The same went for the garlic bunches that I left on the kitchen counter after using just a few cloves… little green sprouts were readily growing.


The key to keeping your onions and garlic from sprouting is to store them in a cool, dark place. I didn’t do that this time around, but instead had the sack sitting where sunlight could reach it. If they do sprout, don’t despair. You can grow more onions (and garlic, too) with ease, and these are your seedlings.

Onions, along with garlic, shallots, leeks and chives, are all members of the Allium genus of flowering plants. They all contain vitamins, minerals and potent plant compounds that have been found beneficial to our health and recognized as such since ancient times. Onions are so full of health benefits that I don’t have enough newspaper space to touch on all of them, so we’ll just talk about a few.

Onions have antibacterial properties, and they promote digestive health, which may be a way to improve immune function.

Onions are a terrific source of antioxidants, with over 25 different varieties of flavonoid antioxidants. The benefits of flavonoids are that they reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, asthma, and stroke. They may play a special role in protecting the brain, too. They capture cell-damaging free radicals and metallic ions in our bodies.

Red onions contain anthocyanins — special plant pigments in the flavonoid family that give red onions their deep color. Many population studies have shown that people who eat more foods rich in anthocyanins have a reduced risk of heart disease.

Onions are versatile and can be used to heighten the flavor of any savory dish, raw or cooked, in any number of ways.

Simply put, adding more onions to your diet is an easy way to benefit your overall health.

Store onions in a cool, dry, dark spot with good air circulation to prevent them from growing. Keep them separate from other fruits and veggies, since their ripening produces ethylene gas which encourages onions to sprout. Keep in mind that if they’ve sprouted, they will rot at a quicker pace, so you’ll want to use it or re-plant it.

Inside of the sprouted onion.

If you plan to eat a sprouted onion, just make sure you cut off any mushy or rotten part of the onion. You can eat the green sprouts on the onions, but the sprouts will be just a bit more bitter than the onion would normally taste. The sprouts are said to have more protein in them than the rest of the onion.

Onions are like any other bulb you’d have in your garden. They should remain dormant until the conditions are right for sprouting – like the conditions in my kitchen with sunlight and moderate temperature. If you aren’t trying to add them to your garden, then they’re better off in the pantry.

How to Re-Grow a Sprouted Onion
1. Carefully into the onion lengthwise to expose the center sprout. Be careful not to cut through the root of the onion.
2. Remove the outer layers of the onion so that just the center sprout remains. If the outer layers of the onion are still firm, you can eat them. If they’re soft, discard them. If there are multiple sprouts, separate them.

  1. Place the onion stem and root into a cup or bowl of water until roots start to sprout. These are the beginnings of roots.
  2. Once roots develop, transplant the onion into the ground or a container full of potting soil.
  3. Let them grow through the season. The onion is ready for harvest when the bulb emerges from the soil, or the green sprout starts to wilt and brown. If you leave them in the soil too long, they’ll soften and rot. If you pull them at the right time, you’ll have beautiful onions that you grew yourself, from sprouting onions in your kitchen.

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