I was in my local West Indian grocery store recently and saw Jamaican-grown Escallion being sold for more than $3.00 a bunch! I thought that was crazy, especially when I can buy green onion at any grocery store for $0.99 a bunch. Whether you call them escallion (pronounced scallion), green onion, spring onion or Welsh onion, they’re all virtually the same thing! Jamaicans love their escallion and use it when cooking most savory dishes. For most it’s as important as using Thyme, Scotch Bonnet Pepper or Garlic.
In most recipes you can use green onions and escallion interchangeably. Both are immature, mild-tasting onions that are harvested before full-grown bulbs form. Escallions are a bit younger and milder with straight white bases while green onions are left in the ground longer to form miniature bulbs
The variety of escallion that is grown in Jamaica, and in particularly St. Elizabeth, the home of the island’s food production, is quite potent. A way to distinguish it from ordinary escallion, or green or spring onion, is that the Jamaican variety usually has red stripes or colouring on the bulbs. There is also a certain unique flavour that it exudes in dishes.
For most Jamaicans cooking without escallion is nothing short of a crime. The soups, stews, curries, and rice and peas among other dishes cannot be complete without a bit of the zesty Jamaican escallion. Since I no longer live in Jamaica I find I’m happy (and flexible) to use local green onions. I am even known to use ordinary cooking onions as a substitute without much cause for upset. Frankly, unless eaten raw, most people can’t taste the difference.
- Remove rubber bands from the bunches, all that togetherness promotes rotting.
- Refrigerate in a plastic bag for up to 5 days.
- Store away from odour-absorbing foods, such as mushrooms, to prevent these foods from tasting like onions.