It’s David vs. Goliath.
Or, more specifically, Vidalia vs. Palmetto.
The Vidalia onion is a giant force in the foodie world. About this time every year, these Georgia-bred onions show up on grocery shelves, a long-awaited treat for onion lovers. Unlike the tear-inducing yellow onion or the pungent red onion, these onions are so mild and flavorful they can be eaten whole.
But now comes the Palmetto Sweet Onion and the Edisto River Sweet Onion. Relatively petite in size, much whiter in color and with more delicate skin, these home-grown onions were introduced a few weeks ago by South Carolina agriculture officials. They want to make you forget everything you loved about Vidalias.
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How does the fair Palmetto Sweet fare against the mighty Vidalia? We peeled back the layers to find out in a sweet onion throwdown.
We pitted the two sweet onions in a taste test, using both varieties in three recipes, judged by a selected, but hungry group of onion lovers from the newsroom last week.
We got help from Branson Stafford, the chef at Davis’, a new bar/restaurant opening this week in Rosewood.
Stafford made two onion loaves, one using the Vidalia and the other using the Palmetto Sweet. Stafford hopes the onion loaf — a pile of battered onion rings shaped into a loaf pan and baked — becomes a signature dish at the restaurant.
It was a bit harder to work with the Palmetto Sweet, Stafford reports, just because the onion skin was so delicate and the Palmetto took a bit longer to cook.
We also made two versions of an onion dip and Paula Deen’s Saturday Night Onions (see recipes inside).
The verdicts of our judging panel:
Vidalia: There was lots of batter, and it seemed this version was cooked longer. The mild taste of the onions was relatively disappointing.
Palmetto: The panel could taste the onions better in this version; the batter was crunchier and it retained its shape well.
The winner? Palmetto
Vidalia: There was more flavor and a sweeter taste with this version. The cheese held the dip together well, and it was a good balance of flavors.
Palmetto: Compared to the other version, this dip was runny and watery.
The winner? Vidalia
SATURDAY NIGHT ONION
Vidalia: Flavorful and sweeter, and a good balance of onion and the bullion.
Palmetto: A bit saltier, but still good
The winner? A slight edge toward the Palmetto.