Appalachian Dialect Appalachian Food

Green Onions Straight From The Garden

Best way to eat green onions

Is there anything better than a green onion straight out of the garden?

This time of the year green onions straight from the garden are hard to beat. We’ve been eating them diced up in a mess of kilt lettuce and as an accompaniment to practically every supper we eat.

Like Granny and Pap, I like to sprinkle out a little pile of salt in my plate and dip my onion it before each bite.

A friend once told me her daddy was so crazy about green onions that he kept a spare salt shaker in the barn so he could partake of fresh onions from the garden whenever he got a hankering for one.

The Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English has an interesting entry for green onions.

Jacob’s onion noun A green onion.
1975 Purkey Madison Co 53-54 A variety of vegetables grew in long neat rows; tender green onions (called Jacob’s onions), peas, beets, carrots, radishes, lettuce, beans, parsnips, tomatoes, cucumbers, and sweet and Irish potatoes. Ibid. 106 I will never forget the endless bundles of crisp spring onions with their long white heads and slender green blades, which my mother prepared for market. Mama called them “Jacob’s Onions.” I don’t’ know why unless it was because they were so prolific.

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English

I’ve never heard green onions called Jacob’s onions, have you?


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  • Reply
    June 10, 2021 at 6:18 am

    I never heard them called “Jacob’s Onions” but my Granny used to fix us green onions with a plate of salt (sometimes she just poured the salt on the table cloth)–AND Wilted Lettuce Salad!!! One mountain “recipe” I wasn’t fond of as a child was cucumbers & onions in vinegar–Now I love this in the summertime!

    • Reply
      Kathy Ottinger Kitrel
      June 11, 2021 at 8:26 pm

      My mom called cucumbers & onions in vinegar, pickled cucumbers and I can not remember a summertime supper without them. I remember having a friend stay for supper one night and the look on her face when she popped her first cucumber in her mouth was priceless. She did not say anything but later in the summer I went with her to her grandparents cabin and they had cucumbers and onions too. When I took my first bite I knew why she made such a face. Theirs were sweet, mom’s were just vinegar, a little oil and water, salt and pepper and really strong.

  • Reply
    Brenda Schenck
    June 8, 2021 at 6:06 pm

    I’ve never heard of Jacob’s onions….I do love green onions & growing up, daddy always put small pile of salt beside his plate on the table ….I use to do that but haven’t in years…my daddy carried a salt shaker in his truck all the time, just in case while he was in the garden working, he could eat onions, tomatoes & cucumbers too…he was such a hard worker and loved his big gardens and sharing the bounty with friends, family & even his doctors….
    I always get the best memories when reading your blog & watching your YouTube channel

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    June 8, 2021 at 6:00 pm

    I’ve been trying all day to remember fifty or more years ago. Daddy had a different name for green onions. I cannot say that it was Jacob’s onions but it wasn’t the same mundane Spring Onions or Green Onions we hear today. Mommy grew Multiplier onions but they were something else altogether.
    Daddy grew salsify, parsnips and chives. Those I remember, I’m sure there were more. Daddy loved onions and we ate them at all stages of their growth. We pulled barrel onions and ate them first. Barrel onions were those that would go to seed. They would have a central stem that would swell in the middle and resemble a barrel. They never made much of a bulb and wouldn’t keep. Their bite was very sharp if you ate them fresh. Cooked they were a little better but their taste was lacking.
    “Jacob’s Onions?” I’m not sure! But I know well what is described!

    • Reply
      June 8, 2021 at 9:12 pm

      Ed, you wouldn’t be thinking of scallions or as my folks would say scullions.I was very young and don’t remember much about them but it seems to me they looked a lot like Tipper’s green onions. They would reseed themselves each year and comeback up in the spring. They may have been multiplier onions.

    • Reply
      Gloria Urban
      June 9, 2021 at 8:36 pm

      We called them Bottle Onions. I’ve also heard of Walking Onions, but I don’t know if they’re different.

  • Reply
    June 8, 2021 at 5:26 pm

    I don’t eat onions of any type. They mess up my sugar and my wife won’t kiss me. In elementary school some brought their lunch and some went home for lunch. On Fridays in good weather Ben would bring a chunk of cornbread and a big onion to the principal and we could play outside all afternoon.

  • Reply
    June 8, 2021 at 4:51 pm

    Those bunch of onions looks so good, specially with a piece of cornbread. I have done like Miss Cindy said her dad did, put salt in my hand and dap the onion in it. Many, many times.

  • Reply
    Barbara Parker
    June 8, 2021 at 4:42 pm

    My Appalachian Mother loved onions too. She made sure we had an onion at lunch or supper. She always offered to peel the onion and to cut it up even when she was in her 90s and had terrible arthritis in her sweet hands. I couldn’t bear to let her do that seeing her crippled hands, so I would fix the onion for our meals. She would find something else to do to help. She always wanted to help in the kitchen even when she was wheel chair bound and of course I appreciated her help even though it makes me get tearful just remembering her sweet, willing ways. We spent a good bit of time in the garden and in the kitchen. I sure do miss my Mother. God gave her almost 94 years on this earth and I am thankful that she was my Mama.

    • Reply
      Ron Stephens
      June 8, 2021 at 5:27 pm

      Your tribute to your Mother is so sweet. I recognize that spirit of hers. The bible speaks of “the gift of helps” and surely your Mom had it. I have found that it is rare but it is especially important; for Mothers nurses, law enforcement, emergency services and the list goes on and on. Those with the gift of helps are not concerned with self but just ‘how can I help?’ They are inclined to quietly find something that needs doing and just do it. If no-one notices, they don’t mind. I very much supect it was one or more women like that who wove the Lord’s coat that was without seam. The bible doesn’t say were it came from, just like those folks. Thomas Castain, I think it was, wrote a book about it called “Thr Robe”.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    June 8, 2021 at 12:45 pm

    Never heard of Jacob’s onions either.
    Things have been really hectic here over the last few weeks but I did manage to have me some green onions last night.
    I planted Cherokee Purple tomatoes this year for the first time and they are growing so fast I can’t take care of them like I want to. I did cut off some suckers and planted 4 to a hole, planning to leave the strongest ones. I now have 16 Cherokee Purples from my start of 6 plants.

    • Reply
      June 8, 2021 at 5:58 pm

      Cherokee Purple was my daughter’s favorite tomato. After her death I have trouble trying to eat them. I would always plant some each year for her. Besides letting my grandson set out a few tomato plants I have not had the heart to do anything with a garden this year. I am truly glad your wife is doing better.

  • Reply
    June 8, 2021 at 12:33 pm

    I have never heard of Jacob’s onions. I did have a big start of something from 5 tiny bulbs called
    “Walking onions” or “Egyptian onions” Growing up most folks had a little patch of something they called “Winter onions.” Since I was young I never thought about it much, but they divided just like bulbs, and everybody kept them because they could have onions in the Winter. Maybe called also a bunching onion, but not sure of that. My walking onions were so prolific that I shared sets with many. One man enlightened us at church that they were sweeter in the Winter. All this from five tiny bulbs I got on Listia a few years back. My favorite is those sweetspring onions chopped up with lettuce, and then let hot bacon grease sizzle over it. We Appalachians sure enjoy some good food.

  • Reply
    Larry Paul Eddings
    June 8, 2021 at 9:10 am

    I’ve never heard them called Jacob’s onions, but I sure do love to eat them with a meal. Pinto beans cooked up with some middlin meat, hot cornbread slathered with butter and a few fresh green onions makes for some mighty fine eats. Oh, don’t forget the iced tea!

  • Reply
    June 8, 2021 at 9:09 am

    I have never heard green onions called Jacob’s onions. I have a grandson named Jacob that wouldn’t eat a green onion if I paid him. A little pile of salt can also be found on my plate when green onions are on the table. I had a big mess of kilt lettuce, pinto beans and cornbread for supper yesterday. My friend picked a mess of my lettuce for her parents who are in their 80s. When she told her dad what she brought them he said, “Oh boy!”

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    June 8, 2021 at 8:41 am

    Never heard of Jacob’s onions and can’t think of any connection with the biblical Jacob. Curious. Might have some connection with an historic Jacob in the locality where the name is used?

    I did grow onions from seed once. They become edible size in the second year.

    We have had green onions for awhile. They are making heads now and I am going to have to choose whether I will leave any in the ground or replant some in order to have green onions this fall. I like them better than spring onions, I guess because I like to get things out of the garden into the winter when most of the green things are gone.

  • Reply
    Cathy Sparks
    June 8, 2021 at 8:41 am

    I’ve never heard of green onions being called Jacob’s onions. But also what you describe as kilt or killed lettuce we’ve always called wilted lettuce. Same recipe, just another name and very good!

  • Reply
    Margie G
    June 8, 2021 at 8:08 am

    Green onions are the best I must agree!!! There’s nothing like going to the garden and grabbing your own so fresh they could not be fresher!! I like green onions alongside my beans. They’re excellent with a salad or alone and my mommy used to make biscuits with sliced onions or a few green ones betwixt the biscuit.

  • Reply
    Wanda Robertson
    June 8, 2021 at 7:45 am

    I never heard them called Jacob’s onions, but I have been eating them since I can remember. Love them!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    June 8, 2021 at 7:19 am

    My Dad love spring onions! He would put a little salt on his plate or in his hand and dip the green onion it it then chomp happily with a piece of cornbread! He could eat it with a meal or as a snack with cold leftover cornbread. He loved cornbread and onions! If there happened to be some beans and streaked meat to go with it all the better.
    That was a treat my Dad loved!

  • Reply
    Denise R
    June 8, 2021 at 7:17 am

    Hopefully we will be enjoying some by the end of this month. We’re late getting our garden out, but so far the potatoes, rosemary, thyme, and almost all of our tomato plants have been planted. I hope to have it finished by the end of the week with rattlesnake pole beans, zucchini, yellow crook neck squash, banana peppers, different varieties of green peppers, eggplant, cabbage, brussel sprouts, onions and whatever else I feel needs to be planted!

  • Reply
    June 8, 2021 at 6:11 am

    Never heard of Jacob’s Onions, but I do remember my Baba making me a plate of green onions and salt.

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