QUESTION: What is a Tropea onion? I saw it mentioned on a TikTok but they didn’t give me enough detail to figure out what it actually is. Thanks! – Ceci F
JENNIFER POINDEXTER AT GARDENING CHANNEL REPLIES: Tropea onions are red onions grown in Calabria, Italy. Tropea is one of the most popular towns in Calabria.
It sits high on a cliff and overlooks pristine beaches and is filled with rich Italian history. This place isn’t just known for its beauty.
It’s also known for its unique red onions, the Tropea onion. It’s sometimes called a torpedo onion or sweet red Italians.
This onion is recognizable due to its red and purple color. It also has a unique, rounded shape.
What makes this onion special is the flavor. Tropea onions are not only highly nutritious, but they don’t contain the bitter or sour flavor some other onion varieties have.
Instead, this onion has a sweet flavor that’s slightly aromatic. When harvested young, many people eat them raw.
These onions are grown in various stages in Tropea to prolong the harvest. They’re grown from seed, bulb, and bare root.
Then they’re enjoyed raw, cooked, preserved in oil or vinegar, or are braided fresh and dried to ensure onions are always available.
At this point, you may be wondering, “Is it possible to grow Tropea onions outside of Italy?”
Technically, yes, you may grow these onions outside of Italy. You may purchase the onion seeds online at various retailers. The issue is it will prove difficult to recreate the growing conditions that are natural and ideal in Italy.
These onions get their unique flavor due to the warm summers, cooler winters with slight humidity, and sandy soil. For this reason, the taste of true Tropea onions is hard to replicate.
There’s nothing stopping you from trying this style of onion and seeing if you enjoy the flavor even if grown outside of Italy.
However, if you’re interested in enjoying a Tropea onion fresh, then do your research and plan a trip to go see this beautiful onion in-person.
It’s said that currently, there’s a sixty-mile stretch near the beach of Tropea that’s dedicated for growing these onions.
It could be enjoyable to see a community create a crop that’s so unique to them, it’s hard to replicate anywhere else in the world.
Whether you plan a trip to Italy or attempt to bring a piece of Italy to your home garden, the Tropea onion deserves all the recognition it receives.
It’s a beautiful crop with a wonderful flavor profile that has helped people enjoy the flavors and nutrients that only this unique onion provides.