Onions are a member of the lily family. They are a vegetable that has been used for thousands of years. Onions are a staple food in many cultures around the world. In fact, onions are one of the oldest cultivated crops known to man.
They are also an excellent source of vitamin C, potassium, fiber, folate, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, protein, riboflavin, thiamine, and zinc.
Onions are an incredibly versatile vegetable. They can be used in soups, salads, sandwiches, stir-fries, and even pizza toppings. They also add flavor to dishes and can be used to create delicious appetizers.
But did you know that onions are also extremely healthy? In fact, they contain tons of nutrients that can benefit your health.
Here are some reasons why onions are such a popular food choice:
Onions are an incredibly versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of different dishes. They can be added to salads, soups, stews, sandwiches, pasta, pizza, burgers, wraps, dips, sauces, dressings, and even desserts.
But did you know that onions are also extremely popular for their health benefits? In fact, they are one of the most powerful foods on earth. In reality, onions are best as a supporting item, serving as a blank canvas for the tastes of other vegetables and meat. Consider the typical onion-carrot-celery foundation used in so many recipes. A meal devoid of onions would be depressing and flavorless. That stated it’s any member of the Allium genus, not only onions. So any garlic, leek, shallot, or chive may be used in place of onions on a meal basis.
When we think about what makes something "taste good," it usually comes down to two things – taste buds and smells. The sense of smell plays a huge role when it comes to our perception of flavors. It helps us determine whether or not certain ingredients will work well together.
In this case, the main thing that gives onions their unique aroma is actually sulfur compounds. These chemicals give onions their characteristic pungent odor. Sulfur is found naturally in all plants. But because onions have more than 50 times as many sulfurous compounds compared to other vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, spinach, etc., they tend to have a stronger scent.
Sulfur is important for human nutrition, In addition to being part of the natural process by which fruits and veggies get their colors, sulfur is essential for proper digestion and metabolism. This means that if you don’t eat enough sulfur-rich foods, then you may experience digestive problems.
For example, people who suffer from IBS often find relief after eating garlic. Garlic contains high levels of sulfur, which stimulates the production of enzymes that break down mucus and help eliminate toxins from the body.
One reason that onions are so popular is that they’re easy to grow. You just need a sunny spot with rich soil. And since they require very little water, they’ll thrive almost anywhere.
You can plant them directly into the ground or start seeds indoors first. Once they sprout, transplant them outside once the weather warms up. If you live somewhere cold where winters are long and harsh, you might want to consider growing them inside during colder months. They store really well
Another great feature of onions is how well they keep. When stored properly, they last longer than any other produce item. That’s because they do best at room temperature.
If you buy fresh onions, make sure to wrap them tightly in plastic bags before storing them away. Don’t put them near apples or bananas, though, because these items release ethylene gas, which causes onions to spoil faster. Instead, try putting your onions in an open container next to some potatoes or carrots.
There are several different types of onions available today: sweet, white, red, yellow, purple, green, brown, and black. Each type has its own characteristics and uses. Sweet onions such as Vidalia and Walla Walla are milder tasting and sweeter than regular onions.
White onions are generally considered healthier than red ones due to their lack of color pigments. Yellow onions contain less sugar than red varieties. Purple onions are grown specifically for use in pickling. The origins of onions are not known exactly but there are theories on where they came from. Some believe that onion originated in India while others say that it was brought over from China.
The word “onion” originates from the Old English word ‘eoneuynge’ meaning “to boil”. As time went on, the name evolved into ‘eonioen’ and eventually became ‘oonie’. It wasn’t until the 16th century when the French started using the term ‘oignon’ instead of ‘oonie”.
The history of onions goes back thousands of years ago. Archaeologists discovered ancient Egyptian mummies dating back 3,000 BC that had been preserved through the centuries thanks to the preservation properties of onions. Onion bulbs were also used as currency in Ancient Greece.
When buying onions, look for firm vegetables without soft spots. Store them in a cool dry place like the refrigerator. Make sure to wash them thoroughly under running tap water before cutting off the ends. Then cut each one lengthwise into quarters.
Place the pieces flat side down in a glass bowl filled with ice cubes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
This will allow the onions to absorb moisture and prevent mold growth. The storage of onions is very easy if done correctly. You just need to be careful about keeping them out of direct sunlight and heat sources.
Frying onions add flavor and texture to dishes. This method works especially well with root vegetables like turnips, rutabagas, parsnips, celery roots, leeks, and garlic scapes. Frying onions helps preserve nutrients and makes them easier to digest.
Because most tastes are better brought out with a little hot oil, almost everything has to be gently fried before cooking. Even if the main technique of cooking is boiling, such as in a soup, gently fry the onions, celery, and carrots prior will add flavor. If you just threw raw onions into a soup, the texture would be wrong and the flavor would be overpowering. Cooked onion has a friendlier flavor that doesn’t overpower the other ingredients, but rather complements them.
To caramelize onions, first, peel them by slicing off the outer layer. Next, slice them thinly cross-wise. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sliced onions and cook for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cover the pan.
Cook slowly for 30 minutes or more depending on how much liquid you want to evaporate. When cooked, remove the lid and continue cooking uncovered for another 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit covered for at least 15 minutes. Serve warm.
If you don’t have access to fresh onions, here are some alternatives:
These small white bulbous onions can be found year-round. They’re milder than red onions and sweeter than yellow ones. Shallots are great for adding depth of flavor to sauces and soups. To prepare shallot, simply trim away any green tops and halve or quarter them. Slice thin slices across the grain.
Also known as spring onions, these slender stalks grow up to 2 inches long. Green onions are usually sold whole or chopped. Use them in salads, stir-fries, sandwiches, and dips. Chop them finely and use them in vinaigrettes and dressings.
The pale green leaves of this member of the lily family resemble those of regular onions. It grows up to 6 feet tall and produces an edible flower stalk called a "scape."
Leek greens are often used in stocks and soups. Trim away all tough dark green parts and discard. Cut off the top 1/3rd of the stem and then chop it finely. Peel off the thick skin using your fingers. Wash the rest of the vegetables thoroughly.
I hope this post helped you understand why onions are so popular and helped you with all your food curiosities about them.