“Onions may be among the vegetables that will be prized not only for their addition to our cuisine, but for their value-added health characteristics.” — Irwin Goldman, Associate Professor of Horticulture, University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Red Pearl onions, botanically classified as Allium cepa, are tiny, young onions that are members of the Amaryllidaceae family. Also known as Cocktail onions, Picklers, Baby onions, and Button onions, Red Pearl onions are a long-day storage variety that gets their size by being planted in dense clusters to inhibit growth, are harvested early, approximately ninety days after planting, or are planted in environments that may stunt growth due to sunlight and temperature conditions. Red Pearl onions are slightly smaller than boiler onions and are favored for their sweet, mild nature. They will not overpower dishes and can be used in a variety of culinary applications including fresh preparations.
Red Pearl onions are small in size, averaging 1-4 centimeters in diameter, and are globular in shape with slightly pointed ends. The petite bulb is covered in a burgundy, thin, papery, parchment that easily flakes off when touched. Underneath the skin, there is a purple sheath, similar to garlic, and the flesh is light purple-white, almost translucent with layers of thin rings. The flesh is firm, juicy, and crisp. Red Pearl onions are crunchy, sweet, and mildly pungent when fresh and when cooked, they develop a savory, sweet, and slightly less pungent flavor than full-sized onions.
Red Pearl onions contain antioxidants, flavonoids, fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, and potassium.