Last night I collected about 6.5 pounds of these beauties. It only took an hour to hike into the woods, collect, brush dirt from my eyes, and get back home. Easy, right? Well, then there was about 2 hours of cleaning - ripping off roots, peeling the outer leaves. A dear friend joined me on the back porch to help with this part. In the process we tried to figure out what the best word for 'the opposite of fun' was, wondered if we'd get a repetitive use injury (the left thumb takes a beating when peeling the bulbs), and admired the moon while I burped the crawfish étouffée I had for dinner. I stored the onions in the fridge overnight and then spent a couple hours rinsing, blanching and prepping for freezing the next. Time consuming but free and organic!
Kelly Kindscher, in his book "Edible Wild Plants of the Prairie", gives a wealth of information about wild onions (also called wild garlic and prairie onion). The most important piece of advice he gives for foraging this best known wild food is that "one should always make certain that the onion plant being picked has the characteristic onion smell, to avoid confusion with the poisons death camas, Zygadenus nuttallii Gray, which looks much like a wild onion but is odorless". I've also heard it this way: If it looks and smells like an onion, it's edible. If it looks but doesn't smell like an onion, don't eat.
I can assure you mine were onions because I received the equivalent of a facial peel to my sinuses. The inside of my nose looks 10 years younger now.
Here was my process in case you'd like to enjoy some yourself:
Image credit: Cale Ruiz