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.
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!
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.
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?