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Jan 2, 2007 07:45 PM

Pearl Onions?

Does anyone have a good way to peel these little gems? Do you do it before you boil them or after?

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  1. Parboil for about a minute & then peel, it's a lot easier than when raw, but still a bit of a pain--then proceed with the recipe.

    1. exactly. par boil. if you trim, then cut a little X on the bottom, all it takes to peel them after a parboil is a squeeze and they'll pop right out of their skins.

      1. It's actually easier than it sounds, I did it for the first time just a couple months ago, parboil, etc. I was quite annoyed not to be able to find frozen, which my recipe (for Coq au Vin) said would be fine. Can anyone find frozen pearl onions? Anyhow, the fresh only take a few minutes, not hard.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Anne H

          Pearl onions are definitely available frozen. In Los Angeles, they sell them at Gelson's. If your local market doesn't carry them, try a gourmet market, or ask them to special order, because they definitely exist.

          In any cooked recipe, the frozen pearl onions are fine. I once made a really good greek stifado that called for like 6 pounds of pearl onions, and I did them fresh -- even with parboiling first, it took HOURS to peel them all, rendering the recipe too time consuming for me to make on a regular basis. Until I found the frozen pearl onions, that is.

          1. re: Anne H

            I certainly can't find them in Toronto, look any time I'm in a grocery store. If someone has found them in Toronto, do tell where. Thanks

            1. re: maxandrick

              Old thread, I know, but I had occasion to search out the elusive frozen pearl onion in Vancouver for a recipe. The big Whole Foods on Cambie and 7th is the only place I've found them so far, so maybe large WF stores would be worth trying for anyone else who's looking. The brand is Bremner's and they come in 1 lb tubs.

          2. I use the frozen kind which are always available (Birds Eye) in the frozen veggie section here in Boston.

            I have more trouble finding fresh pearl onions, actually.

            They pop right out with a cut and a squeeze like the other posters have said.

            4 Replies
            1. re: C. Hamster

              Birds Eye in a box or a bag? I've searched and searched here in Chicago. In a regular neighborhood grocery or a specialty store?

              And if a neighborhood, I wonder if the ethnicity makes a difference-- here in Chicago the major chain stores vary their stock quite a bit by neighborhood ethnicity (or income level)-- who do you suppose eats the most pearl onions? Other than New Englanders, who have creamed onions-- no NE neighborhood in Chicago, unfortunately... ;-) I've been thinking of going into the grocery searching for frozen pearl onions every time I hit a different ethnic neighborhood... (Polish? Lithuanian? No real German neighborhoods left, but a couple of specialty stores...)

              1. re: Anne H

                In a bag. These --->

                Unless your supermarket manager is a jerk like mine is (refuses to carry RoTel tomatoes -- I brought some back on a plane from Dominick's in Deerfield, IL!) you should be able to ask them to order them for you.

                I admit that they were sort of hard to find in the case.

                Come to think of it, though, the Dominick's with the RoTel had a very small selection of frozen food compared to most stores in Boston, so maybe it is a regional thing.

                1. re: Anne H

                  If you go to the suburbs, you can find bags of the frozen Bird's Eye in Dee Jay's and Sunset and probably some of those other small chains. Treasure Island?

                  I find the fresh ones better, though, at least if they are in good condition. I just peeled a punch the other day and half of them were green inside. (What is it with the quality onions in stores these days? These were from Whole Foods and all the onions and shallots looked awful.) If I can get small white cipollini onions I use those instead-- they are so pretty and a little easier to peel.

                  1. re: Anne H

                    Did you find the pearl onions anywhere in Chicago? I have tried Whole Foods, Treasure Island, Trader Joe's, Dominick's and Jewel. I've also tried Jewel in Barrington. Maybe a trip to Deerfield is required? They're not even in Peapod.

                2. I had frozen ones for the first time over the holidays and plan to use them from now on - I'd given up on peeling the darn things a couple of years ago - just not worth it - and substituted them with sliced regular onions. But, with the frozen ones, you may still need to do a little peeling - based on my Mom's experience with them.