Thursday, March 15, 2012

Kitchen Staple #2: Onions

My mother used to tell me that when I was little I would sneak into the kitchen and take little bites out of the onions in the refrigerator. 

I guess it’s easy to say that I love onions.  I have always loved them. I like them every way I can possible have them.  I can eat them grilled, baked, fried, sautéed etc.  I see them as my number two staples that should be kept in the house at all times.

I love to cook with them; I love them raw on burgers and on tacos. I make sure I have plenty of them on my pizza and on sub sandwiches. I order extra onions when I am eating fast food and I love the way my house smells when I cook with them.

The problem” My family hates them.

My husband cannot stand them.  Whenever we get burgers he picks them off.  It’s fine with me.  I just add them to my burger. 

My daughter is so picky about them.  She hates them.

It is a contentious subject in my house. I have reverted to grating them just so I can sneak in the flavor. And you know what, that is not enough for them. It drives me crazy.  

My husband and my daughters think they are disgusting.  The problem is that I see them as staples in my kitchen.  I rarely cook anything that does not include onions in some way shape or form. 

Then there was a bright light at the end of the tunnel. Sun shining on me and my onion dilemma. I looked up one day and caught my 10 month old daughter in the refrigerator. I look over at her and I realized she snuck an onion from the crisper.  She was munching on it and I could not do anything but smile. Like mother, like daughter. I finally have an ally!

What do you know about onions?

Yellow Onions

Yellow Onions are full-flavored and are a reliable standby for cooking almost anything. Yellow onions turn a rich, dark brown when cooked and give French Onion Soup its tangy sweet flavor.

           Red Onions

Red Onions, with their wonderful color, are a good choice for lots of fresh uses or for grilling, charbroiling, and roasting.

White Onions

White Onions are often used in prepared salads, white sauces, and is the traditional onion for classic Mexican cuisine. They have a golden color and sweet flavor when sautéed.

Onion Color, Flavor, Usage Guide

This chart was created to serve as a guide for helping you choose what kind of onion to use in a recipe. Feel free to let your own tastes, preferences, and creativity along with this chart guide you to your own decision. The most important thing to remember is "bring on the onions" and enjoy!

Note: Crop size in the chart below is approximate. Remember, flavor and usage info are general guidelines for each color and type.

Variety or Type
Raw Flavor/Texture
Best Usage
Yellow Onion:
All-purpose and most popular, approximately 87% of the U.S. onion crop is comprised of yellow varieties. The most well-known sweet onions are yellow. The best type of onion for caramelizing is a yellow storage variety. Cooking brings out this variety's nutty, mellow, often sweet, quality when caramelized.
crisp, juicy, mild flavor with a slightly sweet ending with little to no after-taste
raw, lightly cooked, sautéed, or grilled
Fresh, Mild
March - August
crisp, juicy, mild to slightly pungent with a faint after-taste
raw, lightly cooked, sautéed, or grilled
strong onion flavor, mild after-taste
grilled, sautéed, caramelized, baked, or roasted
Red Onion:
About 8% of the U.S. onion crop is red. They have gained popularity in the past decade, especially in foodservice on salads and sandwiches because of their color.
crisp, very mild onion flavor
raw, grilled, or roasted
Fresh, Mild
bright tones, slightly less water content than yellow with a slightly pungent ending
raw, grilled, or roasted
sharp, spicy, and moderate to very pungent
raw, grilled, or roasted
White Onion:
Approximately 5% of U.S. onion production is dedicated to white onions. They are commonly used in white sauces, potato and pasta salads, and in Mexican or Southwest cuisine. Due to the compact nature of their cell structure, white onions do not store quite as long as other varieties.
Fresh, Mild
moderately pungent and clean finish, very little after-taste
raw, grilled, sautéed, or lightly cooked
modertaley pungent to very pungent and full flavored, but finishes with a cleaner and crisper flavor in comparison to yellow and red storage varieties.
raw, grilled, sautéed, or lightly cooked
Preparation Tips:
1. Cut onions as close to cooking or serving time as possible. An onion’s flavor deteriorates and its aroma intensifies over time.
2. High heat makes onions bitter. When sauteeing onions, always use low or medium heat.
3. Chopped or sliced onions can be refrigerated for up to 7 days in sealed containers.

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