Tuesday, 28 September 2010
How to plait onions
Today's 'How to' comes from me, aka Brigitte from purlsofcolour, who wants to show you how to plait onions.
Well, plaiting is crafty and onions are foody, and cooking is also a craft, so...
Most of you have probably seen strands of beautifully plaited onions (or garlic) hanging from kitchen windows or market stalls in France. My neighbour told me she remembers when French onion sellers used to come on the ferry over to England, cycled to the towns and cities with strings of onions around their necks, and sold onions on the plait.
Now you can have a bit of the French lifestyle in your own home!
I recently was at a fabulous place called Laurieston Hall, a co-operative in Scotland which grows most of their own vegetables in an amazing garden.* And there, we learnt that a good way to store onions is to hang them up, so that air can circulate around them. That's where the plaiting comes in.
This is one method I learnt - there is another one, but I had so much fun with this one, I never got round to learn the other way to plait onions...
Grab 12 onions that are cleaned from dirt, with the stalks still attached. Take three onions and place them beside each other with the middle one slightly lying lower than the side ones. Tie a string around the stalks of all three and align the string with the stalk of the middle one - this will stabilise the plait, especially when the stalks are very dry and a bit brittle.
Now start the plaiting of the stalks and the string, as if in French plaiting. Add another onion above the middle one and plait the stalk, then add one to one side, then an onion to the other side, then another one in the middle...plaiting and weaving the stalks in continuously.
A dozen onions is a good size for a plait, but use less if you feel the plait is too heavy and could break - fix the string around the end of the plait and make a loop so that you can hang them up.
Onion plaiting is really fun to do and strangely satisfying - it's a hands-on, very 'earthy' job, and you know your belly will profit from it. That surely can't be a bad thing...
There is something really beautiful about lots and lots of plaited onions!
(My stomach aches for onion Quiche or the German Zwiebelkuchen - so yummy!)
When I returned to Belfast, I was looking out for onions with the stalks still attached so that I could plait them, but alas, looks like I have to grow my own for to do that!
*Laurieston Hall will host a craft week from 11-18 June 2011, which will particularly focus on folk arts and crafts that are low tech and use natural or recycled materials. I really want to participate, and I'll let you know when I get more information.