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Onion Season

Contributed by: Jennifer Wickes

History / Geography

There is evidence to support that the ancient Egyptians used to cultivate onions.

Science

Onions are part of the Lily family.

Varieties

There are many varieties, usually onions are divided into two types: green or dried, and the dried category typically containing three colors: yellow, red and white.

Bermuda: a mild onion, typically white or yellow. Available from March to June.

Spanish: a yellow onion available between August and May.

Red/Italian: a red onion available year-round.

Globe: a strong flavored onion in the colors yellow, red or white.

Maui: From Hawaii. A mild, sweet onion ranging in color from white to yellow. Available for import from April to June.

Vidalia: From Vidalia, Georgia. A very sweet onion which works well on sandwiches. Available in limited quantities from May to June.

Walla Walla: From Washington State. Available between the months of June to September.

Oso Sweet: a much sweeter onion variety as compared with the Vidalia onion, but coming from South America. Available in January through March.

Rio Sweet: another sweet onion available from October to December.

Other Varieties: pearl onions, boiling onions, chives, leeks, scallions and shallots.

Season

Depending on which onion you are selecting, you can find onions all year round.

How to Select

Pick your onions that appear to be heavy for their size. The skin should be dry and papery. There should be no soft spots of black spots, indicating mildew from moisture.

Storage Onions can be stored up to two months in a cool dry place.

Nutritional Qualities

Vitamin C

Trivia

If you freeze your onions up to 20 minutes, the fewer tears you will get when cutting it!

Onions have been tauted to heal anything from ear infections to warts to high blood pressure!

Wine Pairings

Depending on how you are serving your onions and to what else you are eating, try a Côtes du Rhône or a Syrah/Shiraz.

Spices

Basil, caraway, celery, cilantro, cloves, coriander, fennel, garlic, marjoram, nutmeg, oregano, savory, thyme.

Equivalencies:

1 small onion = 1 tbsp. dried minced onions OR 1/2 tbsp. onion powder

1 lb. fresh onions = 4 medium onions OR 4 c. chopped / sliced onions

1 medium onion = 1 cup chopped / sliced onion

12 oz. frozen onion = 2 cups chopped onion

Preparation To mince an onion, first cut a small portion from root to tip and remove the dry skin. Lay it on its flat side. This will give you more control when cutting your onion.

Slice the onion vertically, from the end to end without cutting through the root. Make as many parallel slices as you can.

Then, do the same technique, but cut the onion horizontally, from end to end, without cutting through the root.

Now, you can cut the onion, as you have just created a grid within the onion.

Additional Information (Web Sites)
http://www.onion-usa.org

Gourmet Passport By Eve Carr "Onions are Awesome!"
http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/gourmet_passport/65625

Perennials "Growing Onions - Beginner Style!"
http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/perennials/17202

Recipes

French Fried Onion Rings By: Jennifer A. Wickes

  • 1 Spanish onion
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Peel onion and cut into 1/4" slices. Separate into rings.

Heat fat or oil to 375 degrees F in a skillet.

Beat remaining ingredients together until smooth.

Dip each onion ring into the batter and place into the hot oil.

Turn when the bottom side is golden brown, approximately 2 minutes.

Drain on a paper towel.

Yields: 4 servings

French Onion Soup By: TJ Hill - Appetites Catered

  • 1 cup Gruyere cheese -- finely shredded
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese -- finely shredded
  • 6 slices French bread
  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 large onion -- thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 42 ounces beef broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup dry red wine
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt -- to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper -- to taste

Sprinkle grated gruyere and parmasan cheeses onto bread slices. Pass under broiler, until bread is toasted and cheese melts remove from oven and set aside. Heat butter and oil in a stockpot, over a medium- low flame add onions, heat and stir for 30-40 minutes, until a dark gold-not brown. Stir in flour, heat and stir for 2 minutes to color further slowly stir in 1 cup of broth to blend with flour. Add remaining broth, water, and wine-mix well. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place toasted bread into individual bowls. Ladle soup over bread. Serve immediately.

Yields: 6 servings

Onion Tart By: TJ Hill - Appetites Catered

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup onion -- medium dice
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter -- melted
  • 3 egg -- beaten
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt -- to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper -- to taste
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese -- grated smoked

Combine butter and dry ingredients-mix to a mealy texture beat in eggs, one at a time, until dough comes together. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm. Rollout and press onto the bottom and up the sides of tart pans. Combine remaining butter and onions in a skillet, over a medium flame. Heat and stir for 6-8 minutes, until very soft without browning. Remove from heat, cool. Combine eggs, sour cream, and half & half-mix well. Season to taste with salt and a small amount of white pepper. Arrange onion mixture into tart pans. Pour egg mixture over the onions. Bake at 375 degrees F for 30-35 minutes, until set. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 15-30 minutes before cutting. Garnish with sun-dried tomatoes and smoked mozzarella cheese. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yields: 8 servings

This article was originally published at Suite101.com: http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/15184/105577

Jennifer A. Wickes is the Food and Drink Dean at Suite University, the Food and Drink Community Manager at Suite101, as well as a freelance food writer and cookbook reviewer. She has written 5 eBooks, and has had several articles in printed publications, such as Cooking Pleasures magazine, Cook's Country, The Gooseberry Patch, Light and Tasty magazine, Ernest and Julio Gallo's Turning Leaf Wine pamphlet, as well as in the future book "Summer: A Spiritual Journey" by Gary Schmidt. http://www.suite101.com/profile.cfm/CulinaryJen


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