Do You Know What Alliums Are?

The first bites of spring.


“Allium” is the fancy, scientific name for plants that belong to the onion family. Considered to be the first edible signs of the season to come, spring onions, ramps (wild leeks), chives, and succulent strands of green garlic can begin to crop up any time between the very end of March and middle of April, depending on where in our area you live.

These aromatics are praised for being a lot sweeter and more complex in flavor than their pungent year-round cousins, and can easily be substituted into your favorite recipes. Here’s a quick primer:

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  • Green garlic is the “baby” version of the garlic we already know and love — with a more mild, grassy flavor — that can be used as you would scallions.
  • Wispy and delicate chives resemble grass in appearance, have a mild onion or garlic taste to them, and are best used finely chopped as a seasoning.
  • Ramps possess a robust garlic-inflected punch (prime for pickling!) that mellows when cooked.
  • Spring onions are harvested before the bulb fully forms, making for a shallot-like flavor that’s still delicate enough to be utilized raw.

    RELATED: 4 Types of Grains to Experiment With in the Kitchen 

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