Cevennes sweet onion

What is the Cévennes sweet onion?


An AOC and AOP onion with recognized qualities

The sweet onion from the Cévennes is an onion which benefits from an AOP (Protected Designation of Origin) and an AOC (Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée). It benefits from these designations once dried. Thus, the Cévennes sweet onion is a so-called "preservation" onion.

Some criteria that allow the designation of "sweet onion of the Cévennes":

1. A typical geology

The sweet onion owes its particularities to the fact that it grows on acid soil of granitic or shale origin, which erodes. It is a light, sandy and draining soil.

2. A sweet and golden onion

On this very specific soil grows an onion with exceptional physical characteristics:

  • it is very juicy,
  • it is not spicy,
  • it leaves no bitterness in the mouth,
  • its taste is soft and sweet,
  • her skin is shiny and her color is pearly white.

The harvested onions are then divided into three categories:

  • extra (the objective being to have a majority of this category)
  • bulk
  • second choice

Extra and loose sweet onions can be marketed under the designation “sweet Cévennes onions”, unlike so-called “second choice” onions which do not meet the characteristics allowing them to benefit from the designation.

Sweet onions from the Cévennes are therefore excellent onions , which is why we want to work with them and enhance them.

3. Cultivation in terraces

Given the steep terrain, the plots are very fragmented and scattered on the slopes in various places. Also, the sweet onion grows in terraces, on man-made walls to retain the earth and have flat ground to allow cultivation and facilitate irrigation.

4. A reasoned cultivation method

Cultivated in sustainable agriculture, the sweet onion of the Cévennes benefits from a research and development program with a view to tending towards a production that is ever more respectful of the environment.

A reasoned culture also implies different actions, and in particular the fact that the water resource is most often managed by the construction of rainwater retention basins in winter.

Producer profile

Jérôme Daumet manages in association with Jérôme Fesquet 1.5ha of crops, i.e. 30 plots. These 1.5ha of crops represent no less than 4km around the plots (to be mowed every 15 days!). In all, 95t of onions are produced each year on their plots.

The onion season starts in May for transplanting, an activity for which the 2 Jérôme employ 8 people.

Cultivation continues until August, when the onions are almost ripe and their stems tend to droop (they no longer stand upright). Irrigation is an essential factor in the cultivation of onions, and mainly determines the final yield. They stop being watered 15 days before harvest.

For this second peak of activity, 10 people invest the onion fields for the harvest which lasts 3 weeks, until the end of August.

After harvest, the onions are dried on each farm.

The onions are then stored in a cold room. They are sorted and prepared throughout the winter (the producers cut the stems and remove the first skins). This stage of dry onion preparation lasts from September to March. They do not employ outside labor for this and can sort around 50kg/hour/person.

During the winter months, the producers prepare the land and sow the seeds in the nurseries, which will give the onion plants transplanted in May.

They also reinforce the terraced walls if necessary. By maintaining these terraces, the producers are the guardians of the heritage.

The Cévennes sweet onion cooperative

A group of local producers, the cooperative aims to federate farmers among themselves, and to ensure the marketing of all products.

They find several advantages:

  • This allows them to pool equipment. For example, 450t of onions are stored in the cooperative's cold rooms before being sorted.
  • The cooperative calibrates the onions and verifies their compliance using an approval machine, then packs and ships them.
  • Meetings and technical follow-ups are carried out. An agricultural engineer is employed by the cooperative and notably carries out trials. These have led to the installation of weather stations in the area, which helps producers on a daily basis, in particular for the irrigation and protection of their plots.
  • The cooperative also takes care of the production of seeds for its members for a better homogeneity of the product.

ID card

The sweet onion cooperative (30)

  • since 1991
  • 100 producers
  • Producer-decision maker principle
  • 50ha
  • 2500t of onions marketed
  • 20 people employed locally in the cooperative from August to April
  • Booming communication to make ourselves better known (example of the first harvest festival sponsored by Mercotte in August 2017)
  • Existence of a youth commission
  • L'Épicurien x sweet onion from the Cévennes

L'Épicurien prepares, from the sweet onion of the Cévennes, a delicious confit of onions in which we find all the properties of this vegetable: soft and slightly sweet. It is ideal as an accompaniment to a plate of charcuterie or in a Roquefort and walnut tartlet.

#let's savor together