Onions: Growing, Storing And Cooking Them

Some Like Them And Some Do Not

In my kitchen, or any that I have been paid to cook in, onions are an essential. My youngest child, does not like them. At least, she pretended not to. There was a particular evening, when she protested them, she was around 8 or 9, and tired of the ages old arguement, I told her, " well, Denise, fix yourself something to eat, because I can not cook without them".

As memory serves, she had a bowl of oatmeal. Not being a fan of instant cereals, she had little choice. She soon grew tired of oatmeal and peanut butter sandwhiches. Today, she even cooks with them. As her own daughter grows, the protest against onion nears.

 

Many Of Us Take Them For Granted

What are onions anyway?

The onion is any of a variety of plants in the Allium cepa family. Also known as the "garden onion" , most of us think of onions as bulbs, like a tulip bulb. . Above ground, the onion shows  vertical blades, leaves or shoots, the actual onion grows underground. The onion is closely related to garlic and the two are often used together in cooking.

 

Pickled red onions.
Pickled red onions.
Some call them green onions, they are also known as spring onions, the blades are chopped and used as chives.
Some call them green onions, they are also known as spring onions, the blades are chopped and used as chives.

How We Use Them

The whole plant is edible and is used as food in some form or the other. They are now available in fresh, frozen, canned, pickled, powdered, chopped, and dehydrated forms.

Onions can be used, usually chopped or sliced, in almost every type of food, including cooked and fresh salads and as a garnish. Depending on the variety, an onion can be sharp, spicy, tangy, pungent, mild or sweet.   It is hard to imagine salsa, meatloaf, burgers, omelets, soups, stews, beans, greens or cornbread without onions.

Onions are a vital staple in my kitchen. I would rather be without sugar or flour than onions.

There is even an onion pie!

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Vidalia-Onion-Pie/Detail.aspx

Grow Your Own....

Onions are an easy crop and well suited to many patio , backyard or container gardens. They are not particular about their soil. Thriving in sandy, clay or loamy soils, they are perfect for the novice gardener.

Onions are ready to harvest a week after their tops have started to fall over and are yellowed.

Use a fork or agile fingers to lift the onions out of the ground. Do be careful not to damage the skins as this invites decay in the onion flesh.

Onions should be harvested on a sunny day, cleaned of any soil still attached to them and then placed on top of the soil where they will dry out with the help of the sun and wind.. Leave the onions out for a few days (until the tops dry out).

Remove the tops with a sharp knife slightly above the onion top so that pests do not have direct access to the onion bulb,causing it to decay.

Discard any onions that show signs of damage as these can affect healthy onions . If you want to store the onions over winter then you can cure them by hanging them in a well aired place , you can braid the tops together, making the storage attractive. Hang the onions  for about 3-4 weeks. Or you can store them in the mesh bags you have saved from previous purchases.

Spring onions can be harvested when they are several inches in height and will store for up to a week in the fridge. To prepare spring onions simply remove the outer set of leaves and wash.

Worldwide, onion production is steadily increasing so that onion is second only to tomatoes grown as a crop.

 

Purple, white and sweet onions.
Purple, white and sweet onions.

Types Of Onions

 Sweet.  Mild. Purple Skin. Vidalia.  Hot.  These are varieties.

There are basically two types of onions. 

Onions are generally placed in one of two categories: green and dry. Green onions are harvested while the shoots  or blades are young and vibrant in color. The result is the long bunches of green tubular vegetation that you find in your produce section next to the lettuce. These green onions, mistakenly used interchangeably with scallions, are frequently diced up and used in soups, salads, and as a common baked potato topping.

Dry onions refer to large, bulbous onions that have a shiny outer layer of skin. Unlike the green onion, dry onion types are harvested once the shoots die off. They come in several colors, ranging from red, to yellow, and white. This category is further broken down into spring/summer (sweet) and fall/winter (storage) varieties with spring/summer onions being the sweeter varieties and the fall/winter onions being known for their sharp taste and storage benefits.

Health Benefits of Onions

 Onion is effective against many bacteria including Bacillus subtilis, Salmonella, and E. coli.

Onions have a variety of medicinal effects.  American  pioneers used wild onions to treat colds, coughs, and asthma, and as an insect repellant. They have been used in Chinese medicine for similar reasons.

 Onions may be a useful herb for the prevention of cardiovascular disease, especially since they diminish the risk of blood clots. Onion also protects against stomach and other cancers, as well as protecting against certain infections.

  The more pungent varieties of onion appear to possess the greatest concentration of health-promoting phytochemicals

Don't Cry Over Spilled Milk!

Cry over onions instead.

Through the years, all the tips on how to cut onions without crying have failed me. The poor onions have been soaked in water, refrigerated overnight, peeled and chopped from the root end, the top, sliced vertically and horizontally.....they make me cry. All varieties I have ever used.

Mild ones just bring a few tears. The tears grow in relation to the pungency of the onion. Sometimes, I have to stop to blow my nose and wash my face and hands, just to begin again.

Could the scientists be wrong about the gasses being an irritant?

Couldn't they just be good for our eyes, or am being wishful?

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Comments 32 comments

justom profile image

justom 5 years ago from 41042

Onions and garlic are in my daily meals and even in multiple parts of a meal. Food would not be right without onions (and garlic, sorry I know this is about onions but for me they are a tandem). Good hub! Peace!! Tom


Fiddleman profile image

Fiddleman 5 years ago from Zirconia, North Carolina

A good onion goes with just about anything. Thanks I did not know they had all these benefits that's just a big plus to an already good thing.


onegoodwoman profile image

onegoodwoman 5 years ago from A small southern town Author

Justom,

I am there with you on the garlic.

Bread and butter, peanut butter and jelly, spic and span.....some things are just better with a sidekick.

Thanks for coming by.....Happy New Year to you.


onegoodwoman profile image

onegoodwoman 5 years ago from A small southern town Author

Fiddleman,

Again, I marvel at what folks knew, before having

dieticians and trainers telling them what to eat!

Happy New Year to you.


justom profile image

justom 5 years ago from 41042

Amen! Happy New Year to you, I wish you happiness in 2011. Peace!! Tom


Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 5 years ago from California Gold Country

I agree -- I can't cook without onions, either. Last season I planted some red onion sets. The onions were small, but sweet and delicious, thinly sliced in salads


onegoodwoman profile image

onegoodwoman 5 years ago from A small southern town Author

Rochelle Frank,

Yeah, it has to be red onion in my salads too.

It's good to see you again..........have a Happy New Year, and be safe!


FloBe profile image

FloBe 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

I am allergic to the oil in onions so can not cook with them or eat them without getting sick. Sometimes I can handle dried onions if they are properly done. I can use onion powder in that it has also been dried and then pulverized. I do, however, cook with garlic which is not part of the onion family. It is hard to find pre-made goods without onions, so I have to make most things from "scratch."

I wish you the best in the new year (and even if I can't eat them, I still enjoy reading about onions!)


onegoodwoman profile image

onegoodwoman 5 years ago from A small southern town Author

FloBe,

Good to see you here.

While aware that some people don't like them,

you are the first to say they are allergic.

See, I'm not too old to learn!

Actually, onions and garlic, along with

shallots are related. This link will explain

the "family", if you care to read it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allium

Happy New Year to you!


FloBe profile image

FloBe 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

I did read the link you gave. Interesting. I used to think garlic belonged to the onion family but then someone told me that because the make-up was so different (bulbs vs. layers) that it wasn't. So, now I'm back to my first thoughts. Needless to say, the oil of an onion makes me sick but garlic doesn't so I wonder why they're so different?? Something to investigate further!


onegoodwoman profile image

onegoodwoman 5 years ago from A small southern town Author

FloBe,

you have asked me something that I do

not know.......perhaps it is the gasses

released by the onion are not present

in the garlic...just a thought

onions make me cry and garlic smells,

but I use a lot of each!


Tamarajo profile image

Tamarajo 5 years ago from Southern Minnesota

Super useful information. I have grown onions every year and did not know the picking process. I always just pulled them up. Going to do it the right way.

Also fascinating with the health benefits.

I had to laugh because my daughter hates onions and one night I made spaghetti and had purchased a store bought garlic bread that included dried onions on top. I did not know this until she was eating it and she said "mmmm what is the topping on this bread? it is delicious" So my husband grabbed the bag and told her that it was dried onion.


onegoodwoman profile image

onegoodwoman 5 years ago from A small southern town Author

Tamarajo,

Hope the new information will bring added

benefits to your garden.

Thanks for coming by, and Happy New Year to you and yours!


coffeesnob 5 years ago

Great and informative one question - can the onions be stored in a cool room without being hung?


onegoodwoman profile image

onegoodwoman 5 years ago from A small southern town Author

Coffeesnob,

Indeed they can.....on shelves, on table tops, in laundry baskets, in bags, be creative Just stir, or turn them every few days and keep them dry.

My Grandmother kept them in a root cellar, under ground. Shippers store them in crates, grocers display them in bags or loosely packed.

The key is air circulation.

Thanks for coming by for a read.....Happy New Year to You and Yours.


coffeesnob 5 years ago

Yay! My favorite onion is Vidalia, so I can buy them in plenty and store them. I have a room built beneath my front porch in the basement..modern day root cellar.

blessings

CS


Fullerman5000 profile image

Fullerman5000 5 years ago from Louisiana, USA

Yeah, most of my dishes i cook, onions are added. They add such a great flavor. Same with garlic. Those are two main ingedients i have to have when im cooking. Great hub.


onegoodwoman profile image

onegoodwoman 5 years ago from A small southern town Author

Hi Fullerman5000,

Happy New Year to you!

They are essential in the kitchen.......

and the garden.

Thanks for coming by~


Apostle Jack profile image

Apostle Jack 5 years ago from Atlanta Ga

You touch me again with one of my favorite veggies.I can eat them raw,I put them in all that I cook to add its flavor to the mix.You are so wonderful in your presentations.May your flowers never wither.


onegoodwoman profile image

onegoodwoman 5 years ago from A small southern town Author

Apostle Jack,

Thank you so much for your kind words.

When we eat good things, we can do good things!


sean kinn profile image

sean kinn 5 years ago from Key West and Budapest

Great hub! I read about onion health benefits about a year ago, and try to have fresh onions on stuff I eat every day, when possible. I go through a lot of toothpaste, but what the heck, you only live once. :-)


onegoodwoman profile image

onegoodwoman 5 years ago from A small southern town Author

Sean Kinn,

The comment about the toothpaste is hilarious!

Thanks for reading and leaving a note~~


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

I was like your daughter in my early years...hated onions!

Now, I can't cook without them.


onegoodwoman profile image

onegoodwoman 5 years ago from A small southern town Author

WillStarr

Our tastes does change over the years, in many areas.

Thanks for reading my hub.


Lady In NC profile image

Lady In NC 5 years ago from A Small Town In North Carolina

Hi , I am from a small town as well . NC actually . My mom always canned a wild type onion ,they are called " Ramps" ever hear of them ? Great in Eggs ! Very informative Hub ,

Vicky


onegoodwoman profile image

onegoodwoman 5 years ago from A small southern town Author

Hi Vicky,

glad you came by!

I have not heard of "ramps", might they

be known by another name? My Grandmother

used to pick polk salad and stir fry with

eggs. She would also use wild onions, but

I do not remember that name.


Warren Baldwin profile image

Warren Baldwin 5 years ago from Kansas

I'm into organic gardening, in buckets. Will try onions next year. Good post, thanks.


onegoodwoman profile image

onegoodwoman 5 years ago from A small southern town Author

Warren Baldwin,

Thanks to reading my post.

I have been feeding my garden, eggshells and bread, collected from work.

Just yesterday, someone told me, to hold a toothpick OR a piece of bread between the two front teeth to prevent tears........

Can't hardly cook without onions, so I will be trying those tips in the holiday meals!

Again, thanks for reading, and I hope to see you again.


loveofnight profile image

loveofnight 4 years ago from Baltimore, Maryland

you wrote about something that is like a daily staple to me. Whenever a cold is trying to take over my body I just fix a fryed onion on toast sandwich.I don't want to think about life without onions or garlic.....thx 4 share


onegoodwoman profile image

onegoodwoman 4 years ago from A small southern town Author

Loveofnight..................

It has been so very long ago, that I gave value to the fried onion!

Thank you for returning me to the simplicity that I boast of.


Lady_E profile image

Lady_E 4 years ago from London, UK

Thanks - It's interesting to read about the benefits. I thought onions were just good for giving food a better taste.


onegoodwoman profile image

onegoodwoman 4 years ago from A small southern town Author

Flavor,taste, filling and nuttional benefits...........

Ode to the onion.......

Thanks for reading and commenting!

I just can not imagine my kitchen without an onion.........even though my hubby sometimes comes home and asks " what are you crying about"..........and my reply is " onion".

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