Cooking onions are very prone to sprouting which makes us ask, can I regrow sprouted onions? And, are they safe to eat? Find out what to do when the sprouts appear and how to prevent them in the future.
You can also grow your own ginger plant using a root from the grocery store.
Are Sprouted Onions Safe to Eat?
It’s very common for bulbing onions to start growing green sprouts or tops. These are onions with the papery skins that we use both raw and cooked. They need cool, dark, dry storage and it’s the warmth and/or light in our kitchens that gets them sprouting.
But does this sprouting make the onion unsafe to eat?
And is there a way to continue growing them as plants to get more onions?
The short answers are: yes, they are safe to eat. But you might not like the taste.
And yes, you can regrow them. I’ve put the instructions below.
Yes, but they likely will not taste very good.
Yes. When bulbing onions start sprouting, the new growth gets some of its energy from the sugars within the bulb. This means the edible parts have been depleted of some of that natural sweetness we know and love, and the texture is a bit tougher.
Some people like the slightly duller flavor, others do not.
For me, it depends how far along the green growth is. If there’s just a little sprout sticking out, it means the onion will pretty much still taste fine because it hasn’t surrendered that much of its sugars yet.
If the sprouts are a few inches long or more, the main onion part is going to be super bland.
This article at Cook’s Illustrated describes their taste test: Using Sprouted Onions.
Yes, but the taste may be unpleasant.
The green sprout grows from the root of the onion, up through the middle and out the top.
The best way to salvage the onion is to cut it open, pull out the entire green shoot and roots, and use the rest.
If you want to regrow the green shoot, see the instructions below before cutting.
Cats, dogs, and some other animals do not do well with onions—sprouted or not—and can get ill from them. If you have a pet that randomly nibbles, keep the onions and onion plants away.
Yes. In fact, because they are already sprouting (growing), you’ve confirmed they can regrow and they have kindly given you a head start.
Some grocery store foods are treated with growth retardants to stop this from happening, but, if yours is sprouting, it’s good to grow.
The secret to most vegetable regrowing is the presence of the stem-growing tip, which for onions is the base where the little hairy roots grow.
You can grow/regrow your sprouted onion as a houseplant in a sunny location or plant it in your garden (either in containers or the ground). Often there are several plants sprouting within each onion. These may also produce flowers.
Just like sprouted onions, sprouted garlic is safe for humans but the taste is altered. If the sprouts have just started, cut them out and use the rest of the bulb for cooking. You can also plant and grow them.
Light and warmth are the culprits.
Store both in a cool, dark, dry place with temperatures between 55 to 65°F (13 to 18°C). This is often a lower temperature than we have in our kitchens.
Moderate humidity will help prevent drying out.
It is not recommended to store onions in a fridge.
Yes, if the bulb and roots are still intact. If you just have the green edible parts without the roots, no.
Random Cool Fact
The edible parts of bulbing onions—those layers that we can peel away—are actually modified leaves, also known as bulb scales.
How to Regrow Sprouted Onions
Have a look at the image above. It’s a cooking onion that has started sprouting.
To regrow it, you will be removing the sprouts right down to and including the roots, and setting the rest of the onion aside (you can use it for cooking if it’s still fresh).
You can grow sprouted onions in the ground or in containers (indoors or outdoors).
If growing in containers, use a potting mix made for organic vegetable growing.
Each onion may have several shoots that you can separate into several plants.
As the sprouted section grows, a new onion bulb will form at the base.
I’ve included planting instructions below.
This article on growing sprouted onions at Anktangle has good photos for each step.
So, there you go. Another one of life’s great mysteries demystified.
Let me know if you grow your onions and how it turns out. It can be quite different growing them indoors versus outdoors. I find indoors is always much slower, but I like having weird houseplants so it’s fine. If it ends up flowering, that’s a bonus.
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Kitchen Propagation Handbook
7 Fruits & Vegetables To Regrow As Houseplants
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How to Plant a Sprouted Onion
Supplies & Materials
- 1 Onion, sprouted
- Carefully cut open onion, avoiding cutting middle section, and remove green sprout/shoots without damaging them. You may have several individual shoots to plant.
- With root ends down (green shoots up), plant approximately one-inch deep, keeping bulb submerged and green shoots above soil level.
- If planting more than one, space at least 2-inches apart.
- Water until potting mix is moist.
- Grow in sunny location never allowing soil to dry out.