Shrek: Ogres are like onions.
Donkey: They stink?
Shrek: Yes. No.
Donkey: Oh, they make you cry.
Donkey: Oh, you leave em out in the sun, they get all brown, start sproutin’ little white hairs.
Shrek: No. Layers. Onions have layers. Ogres have layers. Onions have layers. You get it? We both have layers.
Donkey: Oh, you both have layers. Oh. You know, not everybody like onions.
Ahhh the Onion, one of the most beloved vegetables in the world. What would life be like without our dear friend the onion?
Onion Rings, French Onion Soup, Caramelized Onions, Onion Gravy, maybe just a thick slice of Red Onion to top off a sandwich. Mmmm.
But am I the only one who has ever gone to the Grocery Store to buy onions, and wondered which color to buy? Maybe you’re making one of my recipes and it calls for a white onion and all you have are yellow…does it really matter?
Can you really chop an onion without crying?
Is there such a thing as the Perfect Onion?
Picking The Perfect Onion
Today I thought I’d write-up a little informational post to answer all those mind-boggling questions, and give you more information that you ever dreamed of knowing about onions… You can thank me later 🙂
Red onions are one of the milder onions, and are great for adding color to your recipes.
Though they aren’t as pungent as a yellow onions, they still have a pretty strong flavor, which is why they are generally used raw.
Cooking reduces much of the flavor so it’s best to use Red Onions just as they are in recipes like Salads, Marinades, op top of a Sandwich or Homemade Guacamole.
White onions are less common than their yellow cousins, and are used a lot in Mexican cooking.
They have a lot more of that sharpness to them than the Reds, and are not sweet at all. But they are also an excellent substitute for yellow if you need onion flavor, but don’t want it to be too powerful.
Because of their high water content, White Onions are super crunchy. So I normally use these in recipes where I want an extra bit of crunch, like in Salsas or Stir Frys.
Over 90% of all onions grown in the US are Yellow Onions, easily making them the favorite. If a recipe calls for an Onion, it’s a safe bet a Yellow would work just fine.
Yellow Onions are very astringent — that sharp, almost spicy flavor that onions are known for. But they also have a lot of sugar too so when they are cooked, they lose that sharpness and become super sweet. Think caramelized onions.
These are also the onion with the most Sulphur Compounds – the ones that make you cry. Although you can’t eliminate it completely, here are just a few tricks I use when chopping onions AND maintaining my macho manly image….
- Chill the onion slightly before cutting
- Always cut the root end last
- Always cut standing up keeping your eyes as far away as possible
- Always use a sharp knife
Yellow Onions are perfect for recipes that need onion flavor. I use them a lot in soups, stews, sauces, and gravies.
Living in the Pacific Northwest, I am fortunate enough to live close to Walla Walla, Washington where the famous Walla Walla Sweets are grown. They are always available to us here in Oregon and are easily my favorite onion.
Sweet onions have thick layers (just ask Shrek) which makes them great for slicing into rings. And because of their high sugar content, combined with a low sulphur content, they are naturally very sweet without being spicy at all.
Just remember the sweeter an onions is, the less likely it will keep very long before spoiling, so use them up fast.
They are great battered, as in onion rings, and are also perfect for French onion soup. They’re also amazing roasted alongside other vegetables.
Vidalias are another popular sweet onion.
So now the you know all there is about onions, let me leave you with this little tidbit.
Did you know that in Blue Hill, Nebraska, no female wearing a “hat that would scare a timid person” can be seen eating onions in public? So ladies, mind your hats when you go to Blue Hill, and maybe leave the onions in your purse until you leave town.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you… 🙂