Food and Cooking: The Onion
The Lowly Onion
Onions - Some Facts I Know
Onions are found in the garden. They are planted in the spring using either onion sets or bunches of onions. Sets are small onions that are grown to a specific size, then dried. Small onions are onion seeds that are grown just so long and bundled together so you can replant them in your own garden.
My husband and I have never been very successful at growing onions. Our growing history, at best, has been dismal. We put the small onions in the ground, the birds pluck them out and use them for nesting material. Perhaps that is a healthy choice for birds, since onions are rumored to remove toxins from their environment.
We plant the sets and soon the weeds take over and we cannot find the new shoots.
The Young Onions
The young onions that get to be about thumb size, are generally the ones that get plucked from the ground and peeled back to the white, dipped in salt and eaten raw. This is considered to be a delicacy in Minnesota.
There are different varieties of onions. White, red, yellow and sweet. The Mayan Sweet and the Vidalia Sweet are the two choices that are selected at our market for slicing and putting into our foods.
When you add them to a casserole, it is best to dice them and fry them slowly in a hot butter for a few minutes until they darken slightly. This is called caramelizing and adds an interesting flavor to your food.
Raw, they are eaten diced on hot dogs and brats, and as a slice - are added to the top of a hamburger.
Onions, sauteed in butter with fresh mushrooms, make an excellent addition to the top of a freshly grilled or broiled steak.
You can even pickle them. We have had onions pickled in a sugar/salt brine and coated with a heavy cream. We have added them to cucumbers and made pickles. I'd like to tell you that there is nothing better than refrigerator pickles made with cucumbers and onions, but I'm sure that you have other foods that you like as well.
The latest news that I read online - and you can believe everything you read, right? - is that if you take a slice of onion and insert it in your socks before you go to bed, you will reap the benefits of your body absorbing the 'good stuff' from the onion and the morning after, you'll feel refreshed. Perhaps you'll feel refreshed, but you'll reek of onions like a bad armpit.
So. What is it? What is it about the onion? There is a story that if you get sick from eating potato salad, that you should suspect the onions. They used to blame it on the mayonaise sitting out.
There's a story that there was a strange malady that struck some town and the one person who didn't die had onions hanging in her house. Onions that had turned black and when tested, contained vast quantities of the disease that was killing much of the population. So, was it a true story, or was it merely supposition?