Have you ever wondered why there are so many different types of onion? They are all onions and they end up tasting the same. Do the different colors bring notes to the onion type?
It turns out that onions with different colors have different flavors though not the same as the ones with the same color. It’s more of a correlation between two things. If you want to know if you should expect a specific onion type, use color as an indicator.
Let’s see how onions get their colors.
Each onion variety has more or less pigment, which makes them different colors. Red onions and shallots have high levels of the antioxidant anthocyanins, which makes them red. White onions have the smallest amount of beta-carotene, while yellow onions have the most.
All onions are green in color and help in the process of photosynthesis. It’s also why green onions and leeks are so green, white, and shielded from the sun.
We know that anthocyanins sound vague, but that’s the Latin name for ‘before’ (antho) ‘blue’. You’ve already encountered the benefits of anthocyanins if you’ve ever had red cabbage, beetroot, any sort of berry at all. It’s the same color as broccoli and cauliflower.
You can saute red onions but be aware that they will change color. If you add something like beans or meat or tofu, they will turn blue. This is because when exposed to the basics of food, it turns into a blue color. If you put something acidic back in, it will turn back to being reddish- pink.
Anthocyanin runs from red to blue and then turns black at its most extreme.
The next step down on the spectrum is yellow onions. Yellow onions contain about half the level of beta carotene than white onions do. The reason this happens is because beta carotene is what gives yellows their orange hue. Beta Carotene is actually found in carrots too!
This one is pretty self explanatory. White onions don’t have much of anything except water. The onions only have only chlorophyll. They’re underground and can’t produce any color. That means no flavor. So we’re left with just water.
These guys are really easy to tell apart. Green onions are usually smaller than regular onions. Leek is another word for scallion. Both come from the Allium family.
Leek is a member of the lily family. Scallions belong to the garlic family. Garlic comes later in our list.
The immature onions are the green onions. If you let the bulb grow larger, it would grow into a larger cone, and the leaves would still be green. They wouldn’t be nearly as tender as fresh spring onions.
If you need a raw onion, purple and red onions are better. This is due to the fact that it has more bite to it, and is a little bit more spicy than yellow or white onions.
It will end up better for something like salads or pickling. If you cook red onions and end up with a bluish mess that looks wrong, it’s because you didn’t cook them the right way.
Yes, onions can be spicier than other vegetables. Each onion has a different amount of spiciness according to the soil it’s planted in. A sharp onion is a result of higher sulfur content.
Each onion is responsible for producing a compound called propanethial-S-oxide, which is also responsible for tearing up. When the onion is raw, this compound is what hurts.
There are different types of onion. Shallots are a type of onion that has a slightly different taste than a regular red onion. It ends up with a milder taste.
It is a light version of two very flavoring vegetables, and has a vaguely garlic flavor. When you cook lighter meals like chicken, fish, and light veggies, Shallot is useful.
They aren’t overpowering the flavor of the rest of the ingredients so they’re better in a sauce. If you don’t have shallots, there is a way to mimic this effect by using smaller amounts of red onion.
It’s pretty much the only explanation for why onions have different colors. Humans may have developed one or more of the cultivars through a type of breeding called selective breeding. We have grown onions for thousands of years, so it is more likely that every variety is the result of human activity.