Scallions are a common ingredient in many cuisines. Several recipes of European, American, and even Asian origin may call for these long kinds of onions, though they might often be substituted with green onions or spring onions. There’s not much difference between these three onion types; all of them have leaves and bulbs that are edible. They also have a gentler, milder flavor than the regular white, purple, or red onions. This is probably why they made such a great topping or mix-in for dishes like chili, omelettes, etc.
There are some difference between scallions, spring onions, and green onions though, so let’s have a look at these first:
- Scallions are harvested earlier than green onions, though the type of plant is the same. The main difference between the two lies in the white bulb. Since the scallion is younger, it will have a slimmer and narrower white bulb than the green onion.
- One general rule is that a scallion’s white bulb won’t be much wider than the leaves and stems of its plant at the time of harvesting.
- The slightly longer age of green onions cause them to have a wider bulb as well. This bulb is also a bit wider than the leaves of its plant. Plus, the bulb here will be more oval in shape instead of round like a scallion’s.
- Spring onions are the oldest of the three onions under discussion here. Their planting usually takes place when summer is ending. This way, the spring onions grow over the wintertime and are ripe for harvest when spring starts. Their name also came from the time when they’re in season.
- Even though spring onions are older than scallions and green onions, they’re still a sort of young onion. If they’re left to grow, the plant will get even bigger and perhaps give you a regular onion after some time.
- A spring onion has a round wand white bulb, which is like the one that scallions have. However, the bulb of a round onion is much more rounded than that of a scallion.
- The taste of spring onion is also a bit stronger than that of scallions and green onions. This is because they’re been in the ground for longer and had a little more time to mature.
- Despite the stronger taste, spring onions are still regarded as having a gentler flavor than the regular, large onion.
- Leeks are bigger than scallions and have a different kind of taste altogether.
About the Plant
The usual opinion is that green onions, spring onions, and scallions are all kinds of immature onions. They have long and hollow leaves and small white bulbs.
On the other hand, some people say that the true green onions and scallion come from a species called the Allium fistulosum. This is a kind of allium plant that’s different from the usual onion plant. There’s no round bulb developed on this species. Even if we leave its onions in the ground until they reach maturity, the result will be a plant with a straight bulb that’s white in color.
The point here is that scallions and its two lookalikes aren’t the official name of any plant or vegetable. We can’t really attach any of these titles to one particular species and exclude all others.
At the end of the day, any kind of young onion can be in the category of scallions, green onions, or spring onions. However, the Allium fistulosum plants will only grow green onions and scallions.
Nutrition of Young Onions
We’ve often seen young onions being cut up and used in all kinds of dishes. In addition to having a subtle yet delicious flavor, these onions are also good for those who are watching their weight. This is because they contain very little calories per serving. One medium onion from this category will have a mere five calories, which roughly translates to 32 calories in a hundred grams.
If we weigh these onions fresh, they’re around 89 percent water, with 7.3 grams of carbs and 2.6 grams of fiber. Their nutritional makeup also includes small amounts of fat and protein in each serving.
The micronutrients in scallions and the other young onions cannot be ignored either. These include vitamin K, vitamin C, and folate.
The nutritional makeup of these onions might mean that they’re good for beauty enhancement and skincare as well. Shallots are said to be good for the hair, so consuming more scallions could be useful for enhancing natural beauty as well.
Additionally, those who eat such onions can also look forward to benefiting from their antioxidants.
Cooking With Scallions
Apart from the taste and the nutritional benefits, yet another reason to consume more scallions is that they help in making great-tasting dishes. If you chop up some scallions, sauté them, and sprinkle them onto some salsa, chili, salad, or fried rice, it could take their taste to the next level. Even a simple fried egg could get more exciting with some chopped scallions on top.
When we’re buying these onions, we might get confused about which one is which at the market. Even the shopkeeper or supermarket manager may not be sure of just when the vegetables were harvested. Of course, you only have to make such a special effort if you simply cannot replace one type of young onions with another.
On the bright side, most dishes usually allow you to make use of green onion or spring onions instead of scallions. The taste of each is more or less the same, so the change is not likely to run the eating experience.
Even people who don’t like regular onions in their raw or sautéed form might find no trouble consuming spring onions instead. They can utilize scallions in their garnishes, cook by adding the chopped onions to soups, stews, stir-dried, etc. If you have spring onions, utilize their slightly stronger taste by grilling or pickling them. The pickling method will also ensure that they last longer and can be enjoyed even when not in season.
The nutrition profile and benefits of scallions are similar to that of green onions and spring onions. While some debate on the true nature of these vegetables remains, we can all agree that they’re a delicious and healthy choice for our everyday meals.