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How to Harvest Green Onions Without Killing the Plant
how to tutorials | March 29, 2018

How to Harvest Green Onions Without Killing the Plant

Green onions, spring onions, scallions, or salad onions as they are sometimes called are immature onions that have been picked before they’ve fully grown. They are very versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes, from soups and salads to casseroles, stir-fries and more.

Harvest onion greens with the right technique, and they will grow back for continuous production so you can have fresh green onions at your disposal throughout the season. Check out our guide below on how to harvest your homegrown onion greens for the best results.

Green Onions Overview

Green onions belong in the Allium family of vegetables, which also includes garlic, leak, onions and shallots. Green onions grow in clumps and are characterized with a long white base that develops into dark green, hollow, tube-shaped leaves.

The white stalk has that characteristic sharp taste that all alliums have but a bit milder, while the dark green leaves are characterized with a fresh, grassy flavor. When freshly harvested, green onions have a very strong and noticeable smell that’s similar to that of regular onions but more mellow.

While green onions are really delicious on their own, they also make a perfect addition to almost any savory meal. However, if you’re out of ideas and don’t know how to use your freshly harvested green onions, here's how you can make your own Cilantro Crema with green onions.

Green onions are super easy to grow and harvest, and they’ll quickly become your favorite plants once you start growing them in your own garden!

How to Harvest Green Onions

Learning the right harvesting techniques will help you get the most out of your plants so you can always have freshly harvested onion greens for your dishes and salads.

green onion leaves

What’s great about green onions is that they don’t require any special care and can grow in almost all conditions. Once they pop up in spring, after about 4 weeks of growth or when they are at least 6" tall, you can start harvesting them up until winter sets in or until you decide to pluck them out and plant some other crop.

Here are two methods you can use:

1.      By the leaf

If you want your green onions to keep on growing new leaves for multiple harvests, this method is for you.

To harvest them properly start by identifying the largest, outer leaves. Using a pair of scissors, give them a "haircut" by snipping off about a third of the leaves, about halfway down. This will allow new growth to develop for continuous harvests.

By planting a few green onions in your garden or even in a pot at home, you can have enough onion greens all spring, summer and fall.

2.      By the plant

If you’re looking to harvest entire plants so you can use both the leaves and the white stalk of the plant, then you should harvest your green onions by pulling the entire plant from the soil, roots and all.

Start by gently loosening up the soil around the plant using your fingers, then carefully pull out the entire plant. Remove the dirt from the roots or cut off the roots and the tip of the white stem using a serrated knife and your green onions will be ready for use.

When to Harvest Green Onions

The exact time for picking green onions doesn’t exist and there are two reasons for that. First off, the harvesting time varies a lot upon personal preference and the flavor you want to get from your freshly picked green onions.

If you’re looking for a milder flavor, then harvest your onion greens while they’re less mature. Once their leaves have reached the size of a pencil you can go ahead and start harvesting.

The harvesting period typically starts at about 4+ weeks after planting and can last up until winter, since the plants will keep producing fresh green leaves continuously throughout the season.

If you’re looking for a stronger flavor, give the plants a bit more time to mature or until they’re at least half an inch thick and 8-12 inches tall.

How to Store Fresh Green Onions

If you’ve harvested more green onions than you’re able to use, there are a few simple methods you can use to store them so they don’t wilt and lose their freshness.

The method you choose depends mainly on when you’re planning on using your harvested onions. If you want to store them for up to a week, then wrapping them up in damp towels or paper cloths, placing them in a plastic bag or container and storing them in the refrigerator’s crisper drawer will do the trick.

green onion storing

If long term storage is what you’re looking for, then you should try freezing or drying them, so they can stay preserved for a longer period of time.

How to Freeze Fresh Green Onions

This is a pretty simple method that you can use to preserve your green onions so you can use them for months to come.

Start with washing and cutting up the onions in thin, half inch rings or even thinner, depending on your personal preference.

Once the green onions are washed and cut you can either throw them in a plastic bag or container and store them in the freezer, or drop them in a glass gar or bottle so you can just shake them out of the bottle whenever a recipe calls for them. The type of container you use will depend mostly on how much space you have in your freezer and how long you’re planning on storing the green onions for.

How to Dry Fresh Green Onions

Drying is yet another method of long-term storage that’s pretty useful in this case. What’s great about this method is that it allows you to store your green onions for years without spoiling.

Same as with the other methods, you should begin by washing and chopping up your green onions. Next, you will need to use a food dehydrator or an oven to dry the freshly cut green onions.

If you don’t have a food dehydrator, use the lowest heat setting on your oven to avoid burning the chopped up green onions and simply keep drying them until there’s no moisture left. You’ll know that they’re ready once they begin to easily break or crush when touched.

Once they’re completely dehydrated, let them cool down and store them in airtight containers.

Having a supply of frozen or dried green onions on hand at all times can make your cooking process a lot easier and allow you to have green onions available throughout the year, even if they are not in season.

Ready to Grow Your Own Fresh Green Onions?

So, if you want to reap the benefits of having your own little herb and veggie garden at home where you can easily grow your own fresh green onions, try one of our customizable roll-out gardens and build your dream garden today! Get started today.

customize your garden

2 Comments

The Seedsheet Team

at 1:07pm

Hi Christina,
The “onion greens” in the Herb Seedsheet are called “Evergreen Hardy Bunching Onions” and are a variety of green onion. I hope this clears things up and let us know if you have any other questions.

Happy Harvesting!

Christina

at 12:07pm

Are what SeedSheet calls “onion greens” the same thing as green onions/scallions? My herbs SeedSheet is starting to grow and I’ve been searching the internet for “onion greens” and can’t find anything except this page!

Thanks in advance!

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