My dad reads cookbooks start to finish, the way most people read novels. His food knowledge is never ending, and I have benefited from it in the form of tons of useful cooking tips (and kitchen equipment). Vidalia onions are one of his favorite ingredients. When I see them at a farmers' market, I hear my dad in my ear and can't resist buying at least one or two.
Vidalia onions are a type of sweet onion grown in and around Vidalia, Georgia. Think of them as the champagne of the onion world: other varieties exist, but to truly be Vidalias, they must come from a specific region. They are sweeter and less pungent than other types. Though you can find them year-round, peak Vidalia season runs from April through August.
How to choose them
Due to their relatively high water content, sweet onions bruise more easily and spoil faster than other types of onions. Look for onions without soft spots or brown spots. The skin should be bright and shiny.
How to use them
With all of the time my dad spends reading about cooking, I have never seen him follow a recipe. He lets the data sink in, mulls it over, and then he wings it. Try going his route and add Vidalias wherever you can use a punch of flavor. Along with a fresh slice of tomato, grilled Vidalia onions go wonderfully on a burger. Or take the burger out of the equation and make a raw onion and tomato salad. No matter the use, if you plan to eat your onions raw, be sure to cut them several hours in advance; the flavor will be even more palatable.
How to store them
One creative way to store your haul? Use pantyhose (does anyone wear those anymore?). Place an onion in the leg of a pair of pantyhose, tie a knot, place another onion in the leg, tie another knot, and so forth. Hang the entire contraption in a cool, dry place and cut an onion out each time you need one. For a more traditional approach to food storage, wrap each onion in paper towels or tin foil and keep them in the crisper drawer of the fridge.