What you see: An onion with a thick, white “core”
What it is: An especially prominent onion stem
Eat or toss: Cut around the stem area; it will be too thick and dense to eat. The rest is fine!
While we don’t normally think of onion layers as leaves, that’s essentially what they are: storage leaves where the onion stashes nutrient and water reserves.
And, like all leaves, they need a stem. But the structure from which the storage leaves radiate doesn’t look like what we typically picture as a stem. It’s a little mound, just above the hairy clump of roots (for a visual, go to page two of this document).
“The stem has been compressed over time as the plant was domesticated and bred,” explained Irwin Goldman, a horticulture professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Usually, you won’t even register that it’s there, but this onion happens to be sporting a particularly large stem.
“Sometimes you see more prominent stems,” Goldman said, adding that it might be more apparent in certain varieties.
The onion is perfectly fine to eat, but the stem tissue will be dense and hard, so you’ll want to cut around it. But, that stemmy area isn’t totally for naught. Save it for making stock!
Irwin Goldman. Horticulture professor. University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Bulb (Plant Anatomy). Britannica.
Onions and Other Vegetable Alliums. James L. Brewster. 2008.
Q: How are onions like schoolgirls?
A: They excel at STEM!