Botanists know it, but the hobby gardener will be surprised how many different types of onions there are. Most of us are familiar with shallots, green onions, spring onions, and white and red onions. However, these also differ in different varieties in tried and tested and newly bred onion varieties. This is not surprising for the reason that onions have been discovered and grown for centuries and should not be missing in any kitchen.

Multi-layer or air onions 

The onions, almost unknown to us, probably come from North America. They then came to Germany via France and are still a specialty here. At the end of the long shoot, the air onions do not form seeds, but small, reddish onions. If roots have formed here on the onions, then the long shoots wither, the onions sink to the ground and begin to take root firmly in the earth. Other names of the air onions are as follows:

  • Tree onion
  • Walking onions
  • Egyptian onion
Tip: This onion variety is very popular, especially among gourmets and star chefs, as it has a very aromatic taste. This variety is not only suitable for cooked dishes but also for topping bread or salads.

Vegetable onion

The term vegetable onion is not a classic type, but a collective term for the mild and thicker onion types in general. Vegetable onions are very popular in the kitchen because of their mild taste and easy processing. The following varieties are mainly known here:

  • Alisa Craig , English variety
    • large onions weighing over 700 grams
    • mild in taste
  • Exhibition
    • between 1000 grams and 1.6 kilos
    • aromatic in taste
  • The Kelsae , English variety
    • at least over 800 grams in weight
    • mild taste
Tip: The official weight record for a vegetable onion of the “The Kelsae” variety is over six kilograms.

Yellow onion

There are many different types of yellow onions, all of which have a very tasty aroma but are still served with different dishes. They differ in shape and taste, with the color similar to yellow in all of them:

  • Yellow Zittauer with good shelf life
  • traditional Italian variety Borettana
  • modern cultivation Tamara (F1) for commercial cultivation
  • Late ripening Texas Early , larger variety
  • modern Sturon variety with good storability
  • modern hybrid echo (F1) with a round shape
  • large, round Dorata Di Bologna from Italy
  • Tried and tested variety from the Stuttgart giant
Tip: The newly bred varieties of all types of onions are usually marked with F1. This shows that it is a new species. The hybrids are usually very productive and are therefore mainly used in commercial cultivation.

White kitchen onions

The white kitchen onions are one of the most famous onions in the kitchen because they have a mild taste and a medium, round shape. These types of onions are also often used in salads. But they also go well with white meat and refine any roast. In addition, they usually have a long shelf life. The most famous varieties are here:

  • Snowball
    • Sweet in taste because of high sugar content
    • Ripe in spring or early summer
  • Tonda Musona
    • tasty, round, large onions
  • Albion (F1)
    • new tasty onion variety
    • brings high crop yields
Tip: If onions are to be stored, they should be put in a dark, moderately warm and dry place. For example, the room next to the boiler room is ideal. The onions can be stacked in airy boxes, ideally made of wood, in several rows next to and on top of one another. Check regularly for germination.

Red onions

In addition to the white kitchen onion, the red kitchen onion is also one of the most popular varieties. But here, too, there are many different types of onions that either have a long tradition or have been newly bred. The red kitchen onion differs from all other varieties in that, as the name suggests, it has a red skin and a largely red meat inside. Recommended varieties are here:

  • Tuscan Red , Italian Traditionssorte
  • Di Genova , early ripening, large, flat and round, tender and mild
  • Respark (F1) , new breed, mainly for commercial cultivation
  • Tropea Rossa Lunga , Italian, oval, mild and tender onion variety
  • Karmen, subtle sharpness, flat-round shape
  • Brunswick dark-blood-red , best-known traditional variety
Tip: Most types of red kitchen onions have a mild taste and are therefore so popular for salads and meat that is too dark.

spring onions

Spring onions are characterized above all by the fact that they are harvested at an early stage of ripeness and the onions themselves are still very small and tender. As with chives, the green shoots are also used in the kitchen. When it comes to spring onions, the following varieties are very popular among chefs:

  • Blanca de Lisboa , traditional variety with long, small onions
  • De Vaurirard , snow-white, flat-round onion, grows very quickly
  • Freddy, high winter hardiness, good yields, shaft end only slightly thickened
  • Winter hedge, the wild species Allium fistulosum has only delicate shafts
  • Spring Performer , mild in taste with a thick shaft end
  • Negaro, the typical, well-known spring onion
  • Pal, barely thickened shaft that branches out
  • Feast (F1) , new American variety, very dark green leaves
  • Red toga , extraordinary because of the pinkish-pink shaft ends
Tip: In the kitchen, spring onions are usually used raw, as they lose their delicate aroma and thus their taste when they are seared or cooked. They are therefore a good accompaniment to any salad or can be chopped up and sprinkled over after preparing a warm dish.

Pearl or silver onions

They are still known from the grandparents’ garden, the pearl onions. They were preferably pickled, often in combination with pickles. But today these types of onions can hardly be found in the local gardens. This is because they were made from the field onion, which is related to onions but is no longer used commercially today. The alternative are the small silver onions, of which there are the following varieties:

  • Pompeii, mild and aromatic, is used like spring onions
  • Da Barletta, firm, small, tasty onions, good for pickling
  • White queen, perfect for pickling, small, white, firm and tasty


Shallots are a very old variety of onion. It is believed that these onions originated in Israel and here in the city of Askalon. Shallots are often referred to as fine onions and are often used by star chefs and gourmets in the kitchen. Shallots are quite small and often oval, they have a strong aroma and a slight to higher degree of heat. They ripen early in the year and are easy to store. Well-known varieties of shallots are the following:

  • Yellow Moon
    • plump
    • yellow skin and quite large
  • Biztro
    • red-brown skin and rounded
  • Longor
    • traditional French variety
  • Elista
    • light brown shell
    • good shelf life
  • Hermine
    • round shallot with white skin
Tip: shallots are also often available and can be found under the synonyms Eschlauch, noble onion or ascalon onion.

Onions should not be missing from any meal. They refine salads, meat dishes, soups, fish dishes and much more that should taste hearty. There is a wide range of different varieties, and it is not just the onions that are available in the market or in the supermarket. These are usually the newly bred varieties that bring more yield. The gourmet and hobby gardener can fall back on a much larger range here. The care of all types of onions is quite easy and even the beginner succeeds if unusual varieties are to be grown in their own garden bed or on the balcony.

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