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Apr 27, 2010 09:50 AM

Where are all the white onions?

I am an avid home chef in Central NJ. I have been unable to find white onions for over 3 weeks now. I have searched several different markets, chain and small, still none. Anyone know? I haven't asked a produce department manager, yet, but I will when I see one. The general stock boy drones never have an answer.

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  1. Are you seeing yellow onions? Actually, the yellow ones may be wintered storage onions. The white onions may be between seasons, or the crop was affected by the cold weather in states that produce them, although they are quite frost resistant. White onions only account for about 5% of the crop grown in the US with California producing about 50% of the onion crop in the US, not necessarily white, and their spring onion season begins in mid April. Texas sweet onions should be available soon but I'm not sure if that's what yu're looking for; that or just plain white onions.

    Wait a week, a crop should be coming in from somewhere, possibly Mexico. Onions are grown in about twenty-two states nationwide, but not all states grow spring crops.

    Or ask the produce manager, sometimes they know...

    I got some of my info from the National Onion Association, who has an interesting little website:

    2 Replies
    1. re: bushwickgirl

      Thank you bushwickgirl. Finally they did come into my grocery store this past Friday. I was seeing plenty of yellow and the purple onions, but they do not serve my needs. I cook mostly with a latin flare, my husband is mexican, so I only use the white onion. I tried using the yellow ones on my my eggwhite omlets, the result was not appetizing to the eye, barely to the palate.

      1. re: supersimmons

        Yes, I know from working with Latinos, and in a Mexican restaurant in NYC, that white onions are the standard, rather than yellow. Glad they are now available to you. As I wrote, white onions make up a very small percentage of the onion crop grown in the US.

        I bet the ones you're seeing now are from Mexico, anyway.

    2. I think white onions are going the way of the dodo in the U.S. Everyone seems to want the sweet ones, which I find insipid for most applications.

      1. We seem to be fortunate in Houston in that we have almost all kinds of produce all year round. I guess it's easy to get it here from Central/South America. I don't recall ever not seeing white, red, and yellow onions in the grocery store. Texans love their onions. It depends on what I'm doing with them, but there are many things for which I prefer white onions.

        1 Reply
        1. re: cycloneillini

          I also live in Houston and there are always white onions, but I grow my own on my patio. I grow yellow, but that's what we prefer. They're not hard to grow, and the taste is much better than a store bought one. You'd think an onion is an onion, but homegrown are incredible.

        2. Here in California we have white onions, but they're not very good, they're extremely expensive, and they rot within minutes. My produce guy says that late rains are causing all kinds of problems for the crop, but that quality should hopefully improve and prices come down by the end of May. Don't know if that applies on the east coast, but FWIW...

          1. My local Mexican markets always seem to have them, in good condition, too. I'm in Staten Island, NY, not terribly far from central NJ. You'd probably find Mexican communities in NJ near the urban coast, as well.