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Country Onions: Onion That Tastes Like Garlic

An onion that tastes like garlic? Read why Country Onions are not your typical onions in this blog post.

By Smoky HazelPublished 3 months ago 4 min read
A photo of country onions. Photo by Smoky Hazel.

Country onions, as the name suggests, possess a flavor profile that resembles garlic more than traditional onions. When raw, they emit a pungent aroma reminiscent of garlic cloves, and their taste carries a mild yet distinct garlicky kick. This unique combination of flavors makes country onions a delightful addition to various dishes, infusing them with a hint of garlicky goodness.

What are Country Onions?

Country onions (Afrostyrax lepidophyllus) upclose. Photo by Smoky Hazel.

Country Onions, scientifically known as Afrostyrax lepidophyllus, are unique onion-like bulbs that belong to the Burseraceae family. Native to the tropical rainforests of Central and West Africa, these onions have been a cherished ingredient in traditional African cuisines for centuries. With their rich flavors and aromatic qualities, Country Onions have gradually gained recognition among food enthusiasts around the world.

What does Country Onion tree looks like?

Country Onion (Afrostyrax lepidophyllus) Tree. Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

This comes from a tree which is pretty special because everything on it smells like onions or garlic! Its bark is a pale color, and when you look inside, it's kind of whitish. When the leaves are brand new, they are super bright green on top. But underneath, they look kind of dull and can be either pale brown or kind of a flat white because they have lots of tiny white scales on them.

Country onion (Afrostyrax lepidophyllus) leaves up close. Photo by Royal Botanic Garden of Edinburgh.

As the leaves get older and fall off the tree, these little white scales come off, and you can see a neat pattern of rectangles made by the tiny veins in the leaves. Also, each leaf has a pair of little leafy parts called stipules, but they fall off early. The one that people use as spice is the seed which has an oval shape. Thus, they are called as "Rondelles", "Olum", "Bobimbi" in other parts in Africa.

How Does Country Onion Taste Like?

A bowl of country onions (Afrostyrax lepidophyllus). Photo by Smoky Hazel.

One of the most captivating aspects of Country Onions is their distinct flavor profile. They offer a harmonious blend of pungency and sweetness, with a subtle hint of earthiness. The taste can be described as a combination of regular onions, shallots, and garlic, but with a unique twist. Whether used raw in salads or cooked in stews, soups, and sauces, Country Onions infuse a captivating flavor that adds depth and complexity to any dish.

How is Country Onion Used in Cooking?

When using country onions (Afrostyrax lepidophyllus), it creates a unique taste you will love. Photo by Yente Van Eynde.

Country Onions provide a versatile culinary experience, lending themselves to a wide range of dishes. Their robust flavors make them ideal for savory preparations such as marinades, dressings, and sautés. They can also be caramelized to perfection, adding a delightful sweetness to roasted vegetables, meats, and even desserts. We recommend adding just a pinch or small amount of it since it's flavor is quite strong. Plus, it can be a suitable alternative for garlic in many recipes as it offers a similar garlicky flavor while being versatile in its use. However, it's essential to consider the specific taste and aroma you desire in your dishes, as the Country Onion does have its unique profile.The possibilities are endless when it comes to incorporating Country Onions into your culinary creations.

Are there Health Benefits from Country Onions?

Country Onions (Afrostyrax lepidophyllus) have great health benefits. Photo by Pixabay.

Absolutely! Aside from their culinary appeal, Country Onions also offer several nutritional benefits. Based on the research “Country Onion” (Afrostyrax lepidophyllus): Spice and medicine of the cameroon rainforest" by Rhiannon C. Thomas, the seeds (the spice), bark, and leaves are important as medicine. Based on studies, they are a good source of dietary fiber, essential minerals like potassium and calcium (Ngenge, T.A., Jabeen, A., Maurice, T.F. et al. Organic and Mineral Composition of Seeds of Afrostyrax lepidophyllus Mildbr. and Evaluation of ROS Inhibition and Cytotoxicity of Isolated Compounds). These nutrients contribute to overall well-being, supporting digestion, immune function, and bone health. We will showcase it's other health benefits on a separate blog.

How to Store Country Onions and Where to Get Them?

Buying at the grocery store. Photo by cottonbro studio.

Finding Country Onions might require a bit of effort, as they are not as commonly available as regular onions. However, specialty stores or online marketplaces may offer them. When purchasing Country Onions, look for bulbs that are firm and free from blemishes. To store them, keep them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Proper storage ensures that the Country Onions retain their flavors and freshness for an extended period. Here's more helpful tips in storing your spices.

Country Onions (Afrostyrax lepidophyllus). Photo by Smoky Hazel

Country Onion is a versatile spice that not only adds flavor to your dishes. Adding Country Onions to your meals not only enhances flavor but also adds a nutritious punch to your diet. Let these unique onions awaken your senses and inspire your creativity in the kitchen. Experiment with different recipes, combining Country Onions with complementary ingredients to create unforgettable flavor combinations.

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About the Creator

Smoky Hazel

Smoky Hazel not only brings new flavors but also vows to reinvent the way we season our food. We're passionate about flavor, and we're here to infuse your culinary adventures with the vibrant essence of spices.

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