Appalachia Appalachian Food Celebrating Appalachia Videos Gardening

Onion, Ungon, or Ingun?


I made a video about our recent onion harvest and discussed onion uses in Appalachia—including in Appalachian language. I finished the video with a humorous story Pap told me about…you guessed it onions 🙂

I hope you enjoyed the video—if you did, please share it with your friends and neighbors. And don’t forget to subscribe to my Youtube channel if you haven’t already.


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  • Reply
    William J. Boone
    January 22, 2021 at 1:13 pm

    Pop-Pop planted onion sets in the spring to be used in cooking that fall and winter. When he saw the onions were dwindling too quickly or too many rotted on him, he would start buying onions from the A & P store. He needed enough onions left to plant the next spring for spring onions to be eaten raw. Each big onion would separate into 2 to 4 stalks of spring onions. They ate most meals at the uncovered kitchen table, a forties style formica top and steel affair. He would pour a mound of salt by his plate and dip the spring onions in it. After they were gone, through the rest of the year, Mom-Mom put out celery stalks kept in a celery vase of water in the fridge. He used salt the same way to eat them.

  • Reply
    August 6, 2020 at 6:05 pm

    Oh Tipper, that story made me laugh 🙂
    I’ve never been clear in my mind about the difference between spring onions, green onions, and scallions. I use all those words but probably in a wrong way 2 out of 3 times!

  • Reply
    Billy Campbell
    August 6, 2020 at 11:15 am

    I heard 40yrs ago in Washington Co, TN onions called “oodies”. Now I probably didn’t spell the word right, but hopfuly you get the idea.

    • Reply
      August 17, 2020 at 9:00 am

      Growing up, there were certain things that we always ate with raw onion, beans and fried fish, were two of them. Other things, we may or may not have had some there, the same with hot peppers. Green onions were eaten when available and I still love them. In the spring, we’d have wilted lettuce with lots of green onions chopped up with em. Our wilted lettuce was lots of chopped/torn leaf lettuce, chopped green onions, cider vinegar and hot bacon grease, then some crisp bacon crumbled over it. Larrupin good, as my a daddy would say.

  • Reply
    Marion V.
    August 5, 2020 at 4:22 pm

    Loved the preacher story, my father-in-law was a preacher. Thanks also for referring to the mid-day meal as dinner and the evening meal as supper, none of this lunch and dinner stuff.

  • Reply
    Sallie the Apple doll lady
    August 5, 2020 at 12:56 pm

    I grew up eating onions fresh and cooked many ways. One of my favorites is deep
    fried with thinly sliced potatoes (allowing the potatoes to start to brown before adding the thinly sliced onions.) We also enjoy a baked onion, just cut in sections but not all the way through, seasoned with butter and dry seasoning or Italian salad dressing and baked in the regular oven, microwave, or wrapped in foil on the grill. This year we gave most of our sets to a friend who grew them then returned most of his harvest. My husband dried them in a dehydrator and gave a few jars back to the friend. Someone once told me of working in a small restaurant located where people walked by. When business was slow they were instructed to fry onions and it usually helped get the people inside. I enjoyed your video. Keep them coming.

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    August 5, 2020 at 11:03 am

    ernuns! Mama had a row of onions that were perinnial. They never formed a bulb and weren’t the walking onions or any I’ve ever been able to find. They were so good–we just pulled them to eat and they always came back. My brother called them shallots when we recently talked about this. Maybe that’s a clue to find out what they were.

    • Reply
      Ed Ammons
      August 5, 2020 at 11:01 pm

      My mother grew the same thing. She called them multiplier onions. Daddy liked big onions and Mommy liked her little multipliers so we grew both. Shallots are a reddish color and elongated. Mommy’s multipliers were white and round except for the side that grew against the bunch.
      One of my onion sets this year grew into a bunch with leaves kinda like chives but all the bulbs that grew were just like little onions. Daddy grew chives but I can’t remember ever eating anything but the green part. Seems like he never pulled them, just snipped off the tops and let the rest grow. I am going to try to save my little cluster and plant them again next spring.

  • Reply
    August 5, 2020 at 9:45 am

    Oh Tipper, there were more preacher jokes back in the day than anything. They mingled and visited a lot back in those days. One of the stories was about preachers eating so much fried chicken. In those days fried chicken or chicken and dumplings was always cooked on Sunday. There is a family picture of my grandparents with a huge crowd including the preacher. I cannot imagine how she cooked for such a big crowd as she had on weekends. The fun part was always figuring out how to bed everybody down for the night. I remember being humiliated when I was asked as a small child if I wet the bed 🙂 I guess they were deciding if I needed a bed or a pallet. It is funny now.
    That family loved them some onjuns. They better not be forgotten at the reunion, and the hotter the better. Our reunion was canceled for first time since the1970s. Love your videos, and I urge everyone to hop over there and subscribe, like, and share. We need more Appalachia. I would like one day to see post on Dog Days. I have noticed some young ones never heard of that term.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    August 5, 2020 at 9:45 am

    After church on Sundays, our pastor, Frank James and his wife would come home with us for dinner. Mama would have Me and Harold to wring a Couple of Chicken’s necks to have with our Meal. Mama finished cutting up the chickens, when we were done, and me and Harold hoped they’d leave the Pully-Bones alone for us. ( This was part of the Breast ) At dinnertime, Daddy would say, “OK, you see what we got, Just make your-selves at home.”

    I thought that Chicken, was never going to get around the table to Me and Harold, because after all, we helped prepare It. Mama could fix Chicken, like no-other, fried in a Couple of cast iron pans to a Golden Brown on our Wood Stove. …Ken

    I loved the storytelling of the Salt and the Preacher. You’re a good Storyteller.

  • Reply
    August 5, 2020 at 9:30 am

    My Mother always had the green spring onions on the table but I don’t remember if she ate salt with them. She always had them with green beans. I didn’t eat them yet I love and think I have to have big slice of onion when I eat beans, peas and cornbread. Loved your story too!

  • Reply
    August 5, 2020 at 9:26 am

    The onion story is similar to the one I’ve heard all my life about the visitor who didn’t like beans and taters. When he announced his dislike, the host told him he was finished eating and could be excused. The old timers sure could tell a funny story. I have heard my share of preacher stories and believe most of them were true.
    I love onions but never eat them like an apple the way some folks do.

  • Reply
    August 5, 2020 at 9:07 am

    We ate green onions as well as radishes from a small mound of salt on our dinner plates. Dad grew yellow/Spanish onions but some would be pulled early for table eating. We eat the mature onions in so very many dishes as well as raw and grilled on the BarBQ pit-
    While I thoroughly enjoyed the video and your story telling style, I miss having the transcript. I like to save the information (always giving you and your contributors credit) – partly to save the history; partly to share with my son and daughter-in-law who are theater teachers.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    August 5, 2020 at 8:44 am

    I have heard the story with a twist. When the man tells the preacher they only have onions his reply is “Oh Boy, My Favorite! Where is the salt?”

  • Reply
    aw griff
    August 5, 2020 at 8:25 am

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard ingun or ongun for onion but have heard yunyuns.
    My Granddad grew the biggest green onions I remember. The boys cleaned out the horse and mule stalls and put it on the garden. What onions were left in Summer were placed in a loft and eaten through the winter, Those onions were so hot they brought tears and sweat. Maybe that’s how so many people got to eating salt with onions. The salt kinda tames it down.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    August 5, 2020 at 8:22 am

    Onions sure are a staple in our diet with the spring green onions being a special treat. There is spring onions and ramps that a lot of folks enjoy. The ramps are a little strong for me but I really enjoy the killed spring lettuce and onions.
    I enjoyed your video, you did a very good job with it!

  • Reply
    Margie Goldstein
    August 5, 2020 at 8:12 am

    I say ungyun myself. Mommy used to make onions and sugar into a cough remedy. If you didn’t die from it, you were BOUND to get better. But the stuff worked and onions clean your blood I always heard. They’re great for what ails ya! My husband told our girls to buy onions and cook them in everything when they were newlyweds. He said the smell of cooking onions would lead a fella to think you’re a great cook because they smell THAT good! It must have been truth because the young men claimed they got good cooks for wives… I loved the preacher story. There are a few folks who I need to prepare such a meal for and most of them are politicians living high off our hogs!!!! Lol

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    August 5, 2020 at 8:11 am

    Somehow I missed the salt dipping even though we ate onions all the time in season. We also ate the dried onions as long as they lasted. This year I hung mine on the porch in a net bag for a time then moved them into the pantry. Did the same with garlic.

    I have wanted for years and years to have a source for onion sets in the fall. I have left my spring onions in the garden to re-sprout for fall but it is a bit risky as they can get eaten. I think onions do better growing into cool weather than growing into hot weather. There must be a way.

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    August 5, 2020 at 7:55 am

    I grew up with my daddy eating green onions and salt — except he put a little pile of salt on the tablecloth beside his plate
    instead of putting it on the plate. He said that was the Louisiana way. After dinner, Mama would shake out any leftover salt into the trash. She ate her onions plain, and I didn’t like green onions.

  • Reply
    sheryl paul
    August 5, 2020 at 7:54 am

    The elders in my family, when I was a child said unjins instead of onions.

  • Reply
    Carol Roy
    August 5, 2020 at 7:51 am

    Your a great ‘story teller’….and a great source of info on onions…loved your video! Stay Well.

  • Reply
    Brenda Moore
    August 5, 2020 at 7:19 am

    Enjoyed that this morning. Especially the story about the preacher. I hope he enjoyed his salt. Haha!
    Have a good day.

    • Reply
      August 5, 2020 at 10:53 am

      I love your stories! I have one.☺ When my husband was at the Baptist Seminary in New Orleans, he would preach on the weekends at various places & we would be invited to eat in the homes of those folks. One day there was a mix up about the home we would go to. Two families had prepared for us! So one said well you come for dinner with us & then supper with the other family & church will be at 6:30. Well, we had 2 little girls & I was expecting another baby. I was huge & one had to be nice & eat whatever was put before one. I was never so miserable in my life. I learned to respectfully decline some invitations after that.

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