Thursday, 23 January 2014


Introduction To Onions

Onions range in size from tiny—less than one-inch in diameter—to jumbo—more than 4.5-inches in diameter. Onions are also seasonal, divided into two categories; Spring/Summer Onions (March through August) and Fall/Winter Onions (August through May) 


Green Onions or Scallions
Also known as scallions, this long, thin varietal is commonly found in Asian cuisine. Green onions are mild and need little to no cooking time. You can cook with the entire stalk if you wish: the white lower portion as well as the green leaves. We prefer to slice the leaves thin, on the bias, for a garnish on whatever it is you’re cooking.

Bear in mind that if a recipe calls for “minced green onions,” it does not necessarily require you to truly mince them to smithereens, as you would with garlic. Slicing very thin rings will almost always suffice in a recipe, and it preserves the integrity of the onion’s shape, adding a bit of visual appeal.

Red Onions or Bermuda Onions
Typically the next most common onion at the market, Red Onions actually contain less sugar than their yellow & white brothers. Because of this, they are a no-no for caramelizing; not to say you can’t caramelize them, but the result will not be as sweet as with the yellow or white. Red onions, however, stand up surprisingly well when grilled, especially when sliced into thick rings. Simply brush with oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and let them go about 3-5 minutes on each side. They’re a great addition to summer salads!

A sweeter member of the onion family, shallots are notoriously ubiquitous in French cuisine. Their ideal use, however, is in place of their larger, more common cousins if a sauce or dish is on the delicate side. Cooking halibut with a beurre blanc sauce, for example, would be the perfect place to use shallots. Making green bean casserole for the holidays? Try topping it with crispy shallots for a touch of refinement!

Sweet Onions
Maui, Vidalia and Walla Walla onions are sweet onion varieties named after the areas in which they’re grown. While previously available only during spring and summer, they are now more widely available. 

White Onions
Although they comprise only 5% of U.S. onion harvest, white onions are an all-purpose onion. They are commonly used in white sauces, pasta salad, potato salad, and in Mexican and Southwestern cuisine. But they’re an all-purpose onion, and they work in any recipe that calls for onions. They are a best bet when sweating onions or sautéing them for a sauce or stew. If a recipe does not specify what kind of onions to use, you’re always safe going with white. However, as a spring/summer onion, white onions do not have as long a shelf life as other varieties.

Yellow Onions or Brown Onions
These popular, all-purpose onions comprise 87% of the U.S. onion crop. The best type of onion for caramelizing, cooking brings out this variety’s nutty, mellow, often sweet, quality. Also referred to as Brown Onions, these are probably equally as common as the white varietal. They function in almost exactly the same way, with one exception: Many cooks contend that yellow onions are best for caramelizing, and as such are called for in many classical French recipes. (However, this may very well be due to the fact that they were simply the most abundant when France was establishing itself as a culinary heavyweight.)

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