All About Onions - Produce 101
All About Onions!
They are among the most common staples found in kitchens across the globe. Why? They are an essential base for so many great, flavourful meals from Indian to Canadian cuisine and are so incredibly diverse. Onions are a key ingredient in a soup, Greek salad or a decadent chip dip. The limit for their use is your own gastronomic imagination!
Storage onions have a dry papery skin and vary in size, shape and flavour. Varieties include: large white and red onions, yellow cooking onions, green onions or scallions, Spanish and Vidalia onions. Pearl, Cipollini and shallots are smaller onion varieties, that add a slightly sweet-smelling scent and flavour to many sauces and vinaigrettes.
What to look for when selecting:
Onions should feel firm without any sprouts forming from the top. Also avoid onions with powdery patches or black spots. Fresh onions should not have a scent. There are many types of onions, for a variety of applications! Refer to our information about varieties to find the type that suits your taste and use.
How to store:
Store onions in a cool, dark room with lots of ventilation. Don’t store in a plastic bag, as onion will respirate and create a moist environment, which may breed mould. All onion varieties should be kept cool and dry. The urban myth that pre-cut onions will make you ill is just that – a myth! Tightly wrap leftover cut onions in plastic wrap, and keep them in your refrigerator. Use within the week.
How to prepare:
If you want to chop onions like a pro, here’s a simple guide:
Cut both the top and root off the onion and then cut the onion in half and peel off the papery skin. Place the cut side down on the cutting board. Now that your onion is in a stable position, you can slice, dice, chop quarter or mince, depending on what you’re making! To reduce tearing, chill your onions before slicing them up for 30 minutes and cut into the root end of the onion last.
Yellow - Yellow storage onions are the most common in Canada. When most recipes call for “onion”, they generally mean yellow onions because these are an excellent choice for cooking and caramelizing. They are generally mild and quite sweet in flavour especially between March – August. From September through to February, they tend to be stronger in flavour and pungency.
These are very versatile and can be enjoyed raw, lightly cooked, sautéed, grilled, baked, or roasted.
Red - Red onions are a popular choice when raw onions are called for because of their pretty colour and generally mild flavour. They also leave less of an after taste than yellow onions. Best enjoyed raw or lightly cooked.
White- These onions have a slightly different composition so they don’t store as well as their yellow cousins. They are commonly enjoyed in white sauces and in salads as they have a clean flavour. They are best enjoyed raw, or lightly cooked.
- If you find your cutting board smelling slightly like onion even after cleaning it, give it a good scrub with baking soda and water or rub it with the flesh of half a lemon.
- According to the National Onion Association, onions bring tears to your eyes due to sulphuric compounds when cut. They recommend that you chill your onions for about 30 minutes before slicing them and cut into the root end of the onion last to reduce this effect. To minimize their pungency soak in ice water for up to an hour or run under cold water before for at least 1 minute.