Fermented Wild Onion Grass

Throughout winter and spring in Victoria, chances are you’ll come across loads of wild onion grass. It crops up almost everywhere, and is a brilliant wild edible for beginning foragers as it’s so easy to identify and so versatile. Here’s all you need to know about safely identifying and using it.

We’d seen a few people in Europe have a go at fermenting and dehydrating ramps (wild garlic) and thought it was worth trying with onion grass. The result was surprising and so so good! The crunchy dried flakes are slightly salty and absolutely full of rich, umami depth. They’re reminiscent of wakame seaweed flakes, and we’ve been using them in all sorts of dishes to add flavour and richness.

Ingredients:

  • Wild onion grass – green leaf sections
  • Salt (see notes below)

Method:

  1. Wash leaves and remove any wilted or yellowing ones. Shake dry.
  2. Weigh leaves & plonk in a bowl.
  3. Add 2-3% of the leaf weight in salt.
  4. Give leaves a gentle massage until they go a bit wilty. Leave alone for about an hour.
  5. Massage for 1-2 minutes & leave for another hour.
  6. Shove leaves into a clean jar and weigh leaves down so they’re submerged in their own brine.
  7. Leave at room temperature for a few days until brine goes cloudy, bubbles form throughout, and it smells rich and flavoursome.
  8. Drain brine, lay out leaves on dehydrating trays/racks and dry until crispy. Notes below.
  9. Store in airtight jar with silicone desiccant sachet if you have one.

We use these crumbled over Yum Bowls, mixed into sourdough crackers and bread, sprinkled on bread & butter, mixed through rice, in sushi hand rolls, and we’ve even ground up a whole lot of it into powder which we’re adding to many regular dishes to give them a rich umami depth. This works really well if you use spring onion tips and roots in place of the wild onion grass: the roots are great for grinding up once dried.

Notes:

  • Pure salt is salt that has no additives. Lake, sea, kosher, ‘pickling’, rock: they’re all pure. When measuring by volume rather than weight, make sure to use granulated salt though, otherwise the ratios will be off.
  • For fermenting, jars don’t need to be sterilised, as the salt will kill off most bad bacteria. Just give your jar a good wash with hot soapy water and rinse well.
  • You can use fermenting weights if you have them, but equally effective is a clean glass jar filled with water.
  • Fermentation will take longer in cooler weather, so don’t fret if it takes a week or more for bubbles to form. You could leave this fermenting for up to a month (and very possibly more), as we’re not concerned about preserving any crunch with this recipe, so don’t worry about leaving it ‘too long’.
  • To dehydrate: In a dehydrator, do it at 60C for 2-4 hours. In an oven, lay them on cooling racks over a tray, with door ajar at 100C for around an hour.
  • You can do this with spring onion tops as well. Or chives, or garlic chives too. Technically you can do it with any fermentable vegetable, but for the umami richness, alliums are brilliant.

Permaculture Principle 2: Catch & store energy; 6: Produce no waste; 10: Use and value diversity; 11: Use edges and value the marginal.