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Delicious Ixil onions

24 april 2022
3 min. de lectura

At first glance they look like small red onions. However, if you look in detail you will be able to notice the peculiarities of a product that only occurs in this town in Yucatán. Smaller in size and with an elongated green stem, Ixil onions have a much sweeter flavor, mainly due to the characteristics of the land, but also to the patience and dedication of some families for their planting and harvesting in the community of the same name.


Ixil (place where it bristles), is a municipality located just 45 minutes from Mérida, dedicated mainly to the cultivation of radishes, cilantro, pumpkin, tomatoes... and its famous onions. The history of this product, unique in Yucatán, begins with the arrival of the Spanish, who brought Creole onions. These began to be cultivated in the entity, adapting to the soil conditions.


What followed was a mixture of ancestral planting knowledge by the Mayans and the qualities of the Ixil land. The result is this smaller, purple onion, with an earthy and less bitter flavor that accompanies traditional stews such as “poc-chuc”, beans with pork or iibes (white beans). It is also consumed pickled to accompany meats, eggs... and practically any stew.

Its production is limited to a few families in Ixil. Partly because seeds are inherited; That is, you cannot buy them, but they are part of a legacy that is preserved from generation to generation. There are around eight families that continue with this ancestral production, combined with other products such as cilantro and radish, which allow them to generate income while harvesting the onions.

That is the other factor: the cultivation process takes more than 6 months, beginning the first days of November with the seedbed that requires constant irrigation and maintenance; Then, in January, each plant is transplanted to finally harvest the onions between May and June.

Both the leaves, the bulbs and the onions are sold in bundles, mainly in the Ixil market, although occasionally they are also available in Mérida, especially in the markets (never in the super market).


If you are already thinking about going to Ixil for your onions (leaving Mérida on the Conkal-Chicxulub highway), you should know that there are two times to purchase this precious product: January and approximately mid-May.


Visit the town market at the end of January so you can buy bundles of the leaves (stems), since the bulbs will still be very small. Don't be afraid to ask and ask for tips on how to cook them; To me, a nice lady named Doña Tere explained to me how to prepare them with eggs for a different breakfast. I decided to buy two bundles of the leaves and needless to say, it turned out to be a delicious combination.


We are currently close to the onion harvest season; You have time to plan a very special meal with this Yucatecan heritage product. For example, to celebrate Mother's or Father's Day you can prepare a delicious poc-chuc or any other cut of meat accompanied by your onions. Or, prepare them with vinegar, carrots, salt and pickled oregano and thus have Ixil onions all year round.

I'm excited to go get more onions and pickle them myself. You dare?



To buy:

  • Ixil Market (May - June), in the traditional and sustainable markets of Mérida (such as Mercado de Slow Food y and Local Wealth) on Saturdays.
Violeta H. Cantarell

Author: Violeta H. Cantarell

“Meridana,” traveler, animal lover, passionate reader, commentator, and enthusiastic promoter of the natural and human beauty of Yucatán.

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