Sweet onion is the star of the show in almost any recipe — I mean, is there any savory dish that the addition of sautéed sweet onion doesn’t take up a notch? Sweet onions have a super mild taste, so they can also be enjoyed raw in a bowl of salad.
This onion gets its sweet taste because it chemically has fewer sulfur-containing compounds — the stuff that makes you cry. Instead, it has a high sugar level.
There are different varieties of sweet onions such as walla walla, Maui, sweet imperial, and Vidalia! Yes, Vidalia is a type of sweet yellow onion, so does this mean that Vidalia onion vs sweet onion is the same type of onion, or is there any existing difference?
The Vidalia onion is a type of sweet yellow onion, but they have a higher sugar content and low sulfur content compared to the other types of sweet onions.
Vidalia onion contains about 12% of sugar; this is way higher than most onions containing about 5% sugar, which, combined with the lack of sulfur from Vidalia soil, gives the onions a sweeter, milder flavor compared to other onions on the market.
Difference Between Vidalia Onion Vs Sweet Onion
Once again, are Vidalia onions the same as sweet onions? Technically yes! All Vidalia onions are sweet onions, but not all sweet onions are Vidalia.
There are different types of sweet onions with varying levels of sweetness, and Vidalia onions happen to be the sweetest among the other types of sweet onions. It has a whopping 12% sugar content compared to the 5% of other onions.
Because they are basically the same onion type, Vidalia and sweet onions share similar characteristics. These onions are quite larger and have thinner skin than other types of onions.
There are other variations of sweet onions like walla walla, texas sweet onions, and Maui onions, some of which are so sweet that they could be eaten raw like an apple.
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How Can You Tell If an Onion Is a Sweet Onion?
There are a lot of onion varieties, with some of them looking closely similar. So how can you tell if an onion is a sweet onion?
The best way to tell sweet onions apart from other types is by examining them closely. Here are a few steps you can use as a guide to identifying sweet onions when grocery shopping so you do not bring home some yellow onions which share a close resemblance to their sweet “cousins.”
Examine the onion’s skin, the flaky part that is peeled off to expose the edible part of the onion underneath.
Sweet onions have very thin and fragile skin, with colors ranging from light tan to pale gold. In contrast, other common types of onions typically have thicker dark brown skin, which is harder to peel off.
Peel off the skin off one side of the onion and look at the color of the vegetable. Sweet onions typically have a white or very light gold color, and spicier onions have a dark yellow color.
Use your fingertip or the tip of a fork to give the onion a gentle poke and observe any dents left in the onion.
Sweet onions have a soft and fragile flesh compared to the tougher meat of the not-so-sweet type of onions. If your fingernail or fork easily left an impression, then you have a sweet onion.
If you are still doubtful, go ahead and take a bite of the onion. A sweet onion has a sweet and mild flavor, unlike spicy onions that have a stronger, sharper flavor.
You can eat sweet onions without worrying about your eyes tearing up or having “oniony” breath.
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What Can I Use Instead of Vidalia Onion?
Vidalîa onions are not the easiest to find, and because they go bad faster than other types of onions, your grocery store may not carry a large stock.
If you can’t find Vidalia onions, do not despair, you can use any of the following onions to achieve similar sweetness and mild flavor, just as you would with Vidalia.
- White onions
- Potato onions
- Walla walla onions
- Yellow onions
Vidalia Onion Season
Vidalia onion season runs from April through August, after which you may not find them to buy. You can find Vidalia onion at specialty grocery stores or local farmers’ markets.
But you need to be specific about the name “Vidalia”—because there are other types of sweet onion. Please note that Vidalia onions are only grown in Georgia; that is where it gets its name. Onions grown anywhere else cannot be called Vidalia.
What Can I Use Instead of Sweet Onion?
Vidalia onion might be a type of sweet onion, but if you aren’t specifically looking for them or your recipe just calls for sweet onions, you can replace them with any of the following:
- Bermuda onion
- Maui onion
- White onion
- Red onion
- Spanish yellow onion
Is a Sweet Onion The Same As a Yellow Onion?
No, yellow onion is commonly assumed to be sweet onion, but that is not the case. Sweet onion is not the same as a yellow onion.
Sweet onion is sweeter than a yellow onion with an almost fruit-like flavor. The two types of onions taste completely different from one another, so if you need a sweet taste, go for white, but when making savory dishes, yellow onions are your best bet!
Can I Substitute Red Onion For Sweet Onion?
This is a common question due to the availability difference between both onions. It may be possible to substitute red onion for sweet onion, but this depends on the recipe you are making.
This is because both onions have different flavors and textures. Sweet onions are typically milder than regular red onions. But for savory meals, red onion adds the most flavor than a sweet onion would.
Red onion adds an extra punch of flavor to dishes, unlike the sweetness and lightness of sweet onion. Either way, they are both delicious types of onions, and you can substitute red onion for sweet onion, depending on your recipe.
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