“ Plant March through to April harvest normally in August. Onions are available in fresh, frozen, canned, pickled, and dehydrated forms. Onions can be used, usually chopped or sliced, in almost every type of food, including cooked foods and fresh salads, and as a spicy garnish; they are rarely eaten on their own but usually act as accompaniment to the main course. Depending on the variety, an onion can be sharp and pungent or mild and sweet. Onions pickled in vinegar are eaten as a snack. These are often served as a side serving in fish and chip shops throughout Britain. Onions are a staple food in India, and are therefore fundamental to Indian cooking. They are commonly used as a base for curries, or made into a paste and eaten as a main course or as a side dish. „
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Onions are super easy to grow, and one of the most commonly used vegetables in the world. I would recommend them for beginner gardeners and experienced ones.
There are many varieties available and I have never found a variety which doesn't do well in my chalky, heavy soil. My favourite is the red Cipolla onion - it has a lovely soft flavour, a delicate scent and attractive red, oval shaped bulbs. It is also nice to grow spring onions in window boxes which you can pick when you need them. Try growing alongside rocket or other salad.
I find it is best to start off the seeds in small trays, before thinning out to plant into the place you want them to grow. You can use the seedlings in salads when you don't want to grow them on. You do not need a lot of space to grow onions - I usually put aside about a metre square of my allotment for onions, and that gives me ample space to grow enough onions to last most of the year.
Once in situ - onions are so easy to maintain - they require very little input. Just keep them wet!
Onions will stay happily in the ground until the frosts, so just pick them when you need them. Or, you can lift them all and leave them to dry out before storing them for future use.
If you don't get round to lifting your onions, the flowers they produce are quite attractive too, which is a bonus. They attract lots of bees.
There are so many food crops which people never attempt to grow for themselves because they might think it would be too tricky or that you need a field the size of Wembley's pitch in order to do so. Did you know you can grow a few onions in nothing more than a bucket filled woith compost with some holes drilled in the bottom? Also, that if you do that, you don't have to spray them with potentially harmful pesticides like non organic shop bought onions are?
Please find below my review about onions which I hope will either convince you to try growing your own or will encourage you to use them more often when cooking.
Onions are a form of edible bulb which are part of the allium family, along with leeks, chives and garlic. They originate from North Africa and it is known that there is evidence of the Ancient Egyptians using them. There are many different varieties now as people have developed new species which come in various sizes and colours, from white skinned golf ball sixed onions to ones which are bigger than a tennis ball and have a bright red skin.
How to grow them
There's two different ways you can grow onions, either from seed or from what is known as a set, which is a juvenile onion that has been started off from seed by a commercial grower then pulled out of the ground and stopped from growing any more. There are different advantages to both. Sets are more expensive than seed but can be planted out earlier in the year than seeds so you get a quicker harvest. However, my problem with sets is that they nearly always go to seed (produce a flower spike) which causes the onion itself to have a large ring of green stem inside the bulb which makes it store for less time than an onion that hasn't gone to seed. Onions grown from seed don't tend to do this as much.
Whether it's onions from seed or sets that you choose, wait till April before you plant them out. It's not scientific, but I plant mine just over a hand span apart in rows, with about 30cm between each row in a raised bed that I made. Any spare sets or seedlings I have go into all sorts of places, from pots to buckets and I've even grown some in an old tyre. When planting sets, keep checking them until they get a decent root system as birds mistake the green shoots poking out of the soil for worms and can / will pull them out. It's possible to start seeds off under cover from February on either a kitchen windowsill or a heated greenhouse in modules (seed trays with "plugs" or holes in them - one seed per plug), then when they are big enough to handle they can be transplanted into their final growing position outside.
The soil for onions should be free draining and have had some manure or good compost dug into it the previous autumn. Adding manure or rich compost to the soil whilst the onions are growing will just encourage lots of leafy growth and prevent the bulb itself from swelling much as all the plant's energy is going into keeping the leaves growing.
It's a good idea to plant them in rows as it makes weeding easier between each row with a hoe. If you keep the area weed free, you will almost certainly get bigger onions at harvest time. The onions are ready to pull when all the leaves have gone brown and collapsed. Lift the onion from the soil and allow it to dry and harden off before storing. I string mine up in a small plastic greenhouse we have outside so that the sun's warmth dries them out but are also protected from the rain. They store for at least three months if kept in a dry environment, too much moisture will promote mould growth and spoil the onions.
One thing I haven't mentioned yet is shallots, which are like an onion in a lot of ways but are generally smaller and often sweeter. Shallots are best grown from sets and should be treated exactly like onions. Another difference with shallots is that one set produces a cluster of anything between five and ten bulbs, whereas an onion set will only produce the one onion. Shallots are good for using as a raw salad onion as they don't overpower everything else and their small size makes them good for fitting into jars and pickling. Varieties of Shallots include:
Mikor - a slightly elongated bulb with white flesh that has a tinge of pink to it. Mr Fothergills sell approximately 30 bulbs in a pack for £4.95.
Red Gourmet - an oval shaped shallot with a red skin and pink flesh. Thompson and Morgan sell 20 sets for £5.99.
Back to more classic types of onions now. There is a huge variety to choose from. Some well established favourites include:
Red Baron - a great red onion that's brilliant for cooking with and using in salads. The red baron has an award of garden merit from the Royal Horticultural Society. They also store well. Thompson and Morgan sell 50 sets for £4.99 that's ten pence an onion!
Alisa Craig - this heritage variety is a favourite amongst those who grow their own as they store superbly well. A packet of seeds from Marshalls cost £2.85 which sounds pricey, but its always worth shopping around as I have seen the same variety for as cheap as 30p in various supermarkets.
Pests and Diseases
Onions are fairly robust, but there are one or two potential pests and diseases which have the potential to affect them. I'd say that the worse disease is white rot - I think it's the worse as the area of the garden which has had white rot shouldn't be used again to grow onions for eight years - crippling if you only have a tiny garden and no alternative space in which to grow onions. White rot will kill the plant and turn the growing bulb to mush. It's easy to spot though, the leaves will turn yellow prematurely and there will be a fluffy looking white mould growing on the bulb. Any bulbs you see like this should be removed and burned straight away, there isn't really a cure or treatment for white rot. It is thought that damp conditions and not enough airflow round the growing bulbs causes it to spread and take hold.
Another potential disease for onions is rust. Rust also affects other allium family members. It shows itself as orange coloured spots on the leaves and is easy to spot. All affected plants should be removed and burned, and to prevent reoccurrence you shouldn't really plant onions or or their relatives in that spot for at least four years.
A pest which can be harmful to onions is the onion fly. Onions that are being attacked by this very small pest will have yellow leaves and won't really grow much. You might even spot the larval stage of the fly (they look like maggots) in the stems of the plants' leaves. The best way to prevent onion fly attacks is to turn the soil over in the winter where you wish to plant the onions in the following spring. This will expose the pupae - these look like hard, still, maggots and birds or small mammals will hopefully gobble them up for you. If you have an onion fly infestation, the plants won't recover even if you kill the flies so they should be pulled out of the ground and burned.
Onions form an essential part of the "holy trinity" of home cooking - carrots, celery and onions. These are the base of all manner of soups, stews and stocks. If you do a lot of cooking from scratch, just have a think and try to work out how many onions you buy a year. It all adds up, and you might have an empty border down one side of your garden where you could grow your own for pennies! I'll come back to cooking with onions, but for now here are some alternative uses for the humble onion:
1. An uncovered sliced onion will remove the smell of paint from rooms where you've been decorating.
2. The smell of onions is known to repel mosquitoes, so they're useful to have when camping or staying outside on warm summer evenings.
3. Slice an onion in half and rub it on your car windscreen if the forecast is for frost over night - it will help prevent the windscreen from icing up.
4. Not strictly speaking a use for onions, but if you've been cutting onions and your hands smell of them, wash them in cold water to get rid of the smell. Using hot water will open up the pores on your skin, the onion residue gets in there and the smell is harder to shift.
Back to more foody type uses of onions now. Here are a couple of recipes for onions that show off their taste superbly and are very simple.
1. Onion Marmalade. I agree that this sounds disgusting as we normally associate marmalade as being a sweet accompaniment to toast. Onion marmalade is best used with meats, cheeses or dolloped onto a salad. I use red onions for this recipe as they are sweet and caramelise well.
You'll need 2lbs of peeled and thinly sliced red onions, 4 tablespoons of sugar, 4 tablespoons of white vinegar, a big knob of butter, a splash of red wine and if you want heat you can add some chilli, either a chopped fresh one or dried chilli flakes.
Melt the butter in a pan then add the onions. Mix the sugar in then turn down and cover, allowing them to caramelise for about 20 minutes on a low heat. Give them the odd stir so that they cook evenly and don't stick. After 20 minutes, add the vinegar and wine then leave the lid off. It will thicken up (you can add more sugar at this point if you want an even thicker "jam") and keep stirring it every now and again. Once you've reached the desired thickness, spoon it into sterilised jars and seal. It will keep for about 3 months. Try making some in December ready for all those lovely cold cuts of meat and cheeses people like to feast on over Christmas, it also makes a nice home made and cheap present.
2. Pickled Onions. Try to use small, bite sized onions or shallots for this. The variety called Silverskin are an ideal size for pickling. Top and tail the onions then remove the paper like outer skins. Leave them to soak over night in quite salty water, then the next day drain off and allow to dry. Using sterilised jars, fit in as many onions as you can then pour spiced vinegar into the jars. I use white vinegar as it's cheap, but white wine vinegar also works well. To make a spiced vinegar, pour as much as you think you'll need (depending on how many onions you have) into a pan and add some peppercorns, cloves and a teaspoon of salt. Slowly bring this to the boil, then turn off the heat and allow to cool. Once cool, pour over the onions into the jars and fill right up to the top of the jar. Seal straight away, and they should last for at least three months. They're best to eat after a month as it allows the flavours to mature.
Health effects of onions
The immediate effects that spring to mind with onions are bad breath and crying when cutting them open. Far more positive effects are that onions have antibacterial, antimicrobial and antiseptic properties (they're good for fighting off colds and other minor infections), they also aid digestion by stimulating the stomach into producing more digestion juices, onions are believed to help the body produce insulin and also it is thought that they help to control the sugar levels in our blood. Also, onions are thought to contain a substance which removes bad cholesterol from our blood. Overall, quite a useful vegetable.
As an aside, the reason onions can make us cry when chopping them is because cutting them releases sulphur particles, and when these particles mix with the moisture in our tear ducts and eyes it forms a mild form of sulphuric acid which acts as an irritant to the eyes - these then "cry" to flush the irritant out.
If you think about what we eat, onions form a large part of our diet. Why not try growing some for yourself and save a few quid as well as being able to try more than the two or three varieties which the supermarkets sell? Not only does their addition transform the taste of cooking, they're good for us in lots of ways too. A superbly useful vegetable, 5 stars from me. Thanks for reading.
Owww my eye!!!
*The onion- Allium Cepa*
I'm sure we all recognise the onion, a root vegetable with many uses. It is commonly used raw in salads, fried in onion rings, sautéed and boiled, as well as the pickled onion, often seen on the bar in country pubs. Did you know that humans have been eating onions for around 7,000 years? Onions were one of the first plants taken to America by the early settlers.
Allium Cepa is the latin name for the species we call onion, although there are many different varieties. Other varieties of this species are shallots and potato onions. We know that onions come in red and white colours, but did you know that some onions (Egyptian onions) grow in onion trees?
With only 40kcal in 100g of onions, and 89% water content, onions are a great food to add flavour without excessive calories to a meal. Chopped very finely, they are barely noticeable when cooked. (A great way to get extra veg into children who say they hate onions!)
*Owww my eye!*
Yes chopping onions can make the eyes sting and weep. There are many old wives tale's such as sucking a tea spoon or eating bread, to help prevent this. I find the best way is to chop the onions in a space with plenty of fresh air, so by a breezy door is great, or even outdoors. There is a variety of onions which have recently been genetically modified to silence the gene that irritates the eyes, but that doesn't sit well with me, I want proper onions!
I learnt that it was best to cut onions in an open, well ventilated space in my summer job, where I often cut 40+ kg of onions every day! I found that the best way to chop an onion was to use a sharp knife, cut off the top and bottom, peel the onion, cut in half, slice one way, without going right to the edge, then slice the other way. This gets you nice small pieces. And do not send onions to the boys to chop or they will get bored and send back massive chunks!
Onions are quite an easy vegetable to grow, and my family have grown them for years. We always have a few red onions, for eating raw in salads, and white onions for everything else. I love to add fried onions to stir fries, minced beef and tomato sauces, to add some flavour, bulk and thicken the sauces.
Onions grow best in well drained, sandy soil, as with carrots. A low sulphur soil helps keep the onions sweet. They can be purchased as seeds or small plants and should be planted in early spring, in rows 9-12" apart with the plants 2-4" apart. Bulbs begin to grow as the days get longer, so a good sunny summer will produce lovely onions. They are harvested in autumn, dried and stored to eat as required.
Onions are best stored in a cool, dark, dry place, in a mesh bag that is well ventilated. Damp places will cause the onions to quickly rot, plastic will make them sweat and light will make them start to grow. I once put an onion in the fridge before going away and came back to find an onion with a foot long stalk growing from it! Onions should not be stored close to other foods, as they will absorb the smell.
I have to say that one of the most successful things I have grown on my allotment is the humble onion. Some might say why bother? Yes, they are cheap enough in the shop but when you can grow your own giving you a full years supply for under a fiver I would have to say Yes! You should bother!
~~~So how do you go about it?~~~
Well obviously. You need some spare land to grow your onions on and then you need to decide whether to grow them from seed or from "sets". I am going to explain how to grow from "sets" as that's how I do mine and don't think there are many people that actually grow them from seeds. (I am sure to be corrected I know, but I find "sets" the easiest route to go down). They are also supposed to be more disease resistant.
The ground should be rich in organic matter but not just freshly manured as this can lead to rotting. Sets are available to buy from Wilko's or various garden centres during early Spring or early Autumn. The ones that you buy in early Autumn are usually called Japanese over wintering onions as they can with stand the coldest of weathers through the winter and will be able to be harvested around June time the following year.
Spring planted sets grow well through the summer with little attention except to keep weed free and will be ready to crop around late July/August time. Red onion sets and white/brown onion sets can be planted but I find I seem to have much better success with the white/brown variety.
~~~How to sow~~~
I usually use a full bed at the allotment and plant the mini bulbs in rows leaving 3 - 4 ins between each one. Looking at the mini bulb, you will see that one end is the root and the other has the tip. You need to gently push the bulb into the soil so that just the tip is showing. You can buy bags of sets that include up to 100 mini bulbs for a few pounds so they go a long way!
When you have filled your bed or wherever you are going to grow them, it is a good idea to cover them with a net as birds can easily pull them out! I keep my net on until they are well established and growing well. You are usually advised to not grow the same crop in the same place each year to stop diseases but I have grown in same place with no problems.
~~~When to harvest~~~
You will know that your onions are ready to be lifted when all the green leaves bend over and start to dry. It's a good idea to lift them on a hot day and leave them laying in the sun for a few hours so the skins go dry.
~~~How to store~~~
This is the bit I love! Plait them! There is an art to it and I remember the first time I did it was a bit of trial and error but I managed it after searching on the internet how to do it. You need a piece of string and you plait the dried leaves along the length of string whilst adding more onions as you go. It's really hard to explain but I make several lengths and then they get hung on a hook in my shed ready for me to just pop to the bottom of the garden each time I need an onion. Onions stored like this last for months and months and if you can plan it right between the over wintering onions and the summer grown ones, you should never have to buy an onion again!!
The humble onion offers lots of health benefits that a lot of people probably aren't aware of. They are rich in quercetin which has been proven to have beneficial effects on the heart. The stronger the onion, the more quercetin. They are good sources of vitamins B and C, beta carotene, potassium and selenium.
The onion can also help with osteoporosis and has cancer fighting properties. Studies have proven that a diet rich in the allium family, (onions, shallots, garlic and leeks), can lower the risk of prostate cancer and also esophageal cancer.
They are full of anti oxidants and anti inflammatories which help with allergy related diseases such as asthma and hay fever.
In ancient Greece, athletes ate onions and Gladiators rubbed them into their bodies to harden their muscles! Not something you want to try at the gym these days unless you want some funny looks and people holding their noses!
~~~Use in cooking.~~~
Any home cook or chef will know that onions are used as the base for so many dishes! They are used as seasoning in dishes ranging from sauces to soups to salads and where would our Spaghetti Bolognese be without the onions?
You can even make a soup out of just the raw ingredient of onions. French Onion Soup is a classic and popular dish. Curry lovers also will know the importance of onions. A good onion base with ginger can 'make' a curry! They can be used raw in sandwiches, as a filling for Quiches and make a lovely bahji!
The onion is fantastic! Grow some of your own and see for yourself! It's the one thing I will continue to grow and enjoy.
Thank you for reading.
Onions are members of the allium family and are used in a variety of dishes. Growing onions is really easy, there are basically two ways to do this from seeds, or sets that are tiny little onions bulbs. I grow my onions from sets as I find this easier plus they are supposed to be more resistant to disease than seeds though they are a little more expensive than a packet of onion seeds.
Onions like to grow in soil that is well drained, I sow my onion sets directly into the ground around March-April, depending on the weather, to do this I dib a little hole big enough for the bulb and put the bulb large end down, I space them about 5 inches part, water well and wait. I keep the onion bed relatively weed free and water if we have a dry spell, but generally I find that they grow quite happily without much intervention, the onions are ready for picking when they are visible above the ground and look about the size of a golf-tennis ball, this depends upon the variety and I find that the smaller onions are stronger in tastes. They can be used straight from picking or can be dried, simply by leaving them in the sun, and left for a good few weeks in the larder cupboard.
If your onions start to flower, it is best to cut off the flower as all the energy will go into producing the flower rather than the onion. I have so far not had any issues with any sort of pest or disease on my onions but you can have problems sometimes with birds pecking at the bulbs. Onions can also rust and get mildew, the base of the onions can get what is known as white fungus and this will kill it. There may be more issues, but I have not encountered any.
Onions have a number of culinary uses and are very good at forming the base of a meal be it in a curry or a soup. They can be fried, baked, grilled, griddled, boiled, pickled, eaten raw and dehydrated and generally cooked any which way you like. I would recommend having a go at growing your own.
This review will also appear on Ciao! under the same user name.
Onions add flavour to a multitude of savoury recipes, snacks, pickles and sauces and are also eaten in their own right fried or grilled or raw in salads or sandwiches. They are readily available in the shops and markets throughout the year as they store well and they are also very straightforward to grow.
There are so many different types of onion. There are spring onions, shallots, red onions, yellow and white onions, pearl onions.. the list goes on.
Welsh onions grow in my garden, they are hardy perennials and I think they are rather how you would imagine a wild onion to be, similar in the shape of the leaves and bulbs to a spring onion but growing in clumps. I find these 'evergrowing' onions useful because the leaves and bulbs can be harvested at any time of the year fresh from the ground.
Growing onions can be very worthwhile in terms of what you gain for a little cost and effort. Onion sets early in the Spring are easily available not only from garden centres but also supermarkets and high street stores. I usually buy a 500g bag from Wilko, currently priced at £1.49, and this gives somewhere around 40 onions.
I plant the tiny immature onions in a sunny spot in the garden at approximately 20cm apart and 35cm between each row. Having grown onions for a good few years I've noticed the plants do benefit from a good amount of well rotted manure or compost prior to planting and also a wood ash or potash top dressing during the growing period. Early onions can be surprisingly quick to grow, so I start harvesting smaller onions early otherwise I'm left with an abundance of large onions all at once. However they store successfully in a dry, cool airy place and will last throughout the winter.
Preparing onions by chopping or slicing is notorious for inducing watery eyes. Sulphoxides in the onion causes a reaction with the water in our eyes which can then sting. Of course closing our eyes whilst chopping with a knife is not a good idea but that's what you feel like doing! There are various tips and antidotes such as chopping onions near running water or a lighted candle. Putting onions in the fridge or cold water prior to chopping. My friend places a really large chunk of bread in his mouth whilst slicing or chopping onions and swears it works without fail. We each have a method that works for us, I find leaving out the very central part of the onion reduces the problem enough not to cause too much in the way of irritation.
Onions are versatile and provide excellent flavour, in addition they contain vitamin C and an antioxidant, quercetin, that helps eliminate free radicals. This may be why onions are reputed to be beneficial to eat when suffering from a cold or the flu.
Thanks for reading this review!
© Lunaria 2012
Onions are great in any meal, be it as part of the sauce, or as a stand alone vegetable. You buy packs of about 50 onion bulbs for about £3. They should be planted in March, with the bulb upright, with their tips sticking up above the ground, with about 10cm between each one (If growing from seed, grow in drills 13mm deep, and thin out to about 10cm once large enough). This close spacing means that you can fit loads into really small spaces. Since they're quite shallow rooted, it would also be possible to plant them in pots or troughs. The should start sprouting from the top and the bulb will visibly swell. Early september you will need to physically bend the tops down, and once they have turned brown you can harvest them. Store them by plaiting the tops in and together. They can also be lifted as and when needed from the ground, as soon as they get big enough.
In a bid to cram away as many write-ups for plants before the powers-that-be at dooyoo decide to downgrade yet another category of reviewable objects - presumably as part of their long-term plan working towards the point where it won't be worthwhile writing a review for anything other than electronics, Guerlain fragrances, or mobile poxy 'phones - in this review I shall mostly be concentrating on onions.
And not just any old onions - because even though I like vegetables, and I like gardening, quite frankly I think I'd find myself hard-pressed to find 150 words to write about 'onions' in general.
No. What I've got are amazing ever-lasting onions, no less. These are also known as 'tree' or 'walking' onions, and the variety I've got, I'm astonished to see from the picture on Wikipedia, is actually called the 'Egyptian Walking Onion'. (They just called them 'everlasting' or 'perennial' onions, when I got mine.)
Tree onions don't grow bulbs under the ground like regular onions. They have the hollow, typical onion leaves, and sturdy, upstanding stems of an onion, but these root straight into the ground (albeit pretty shallow-rootedly) like any other (non-bulbous) plant. The difference is that they bear, at the top of the stem (which can be up to a couple of feet tall, in a larger plant), a stuck-together cluster of little miniature onion bulb-lets, each with a little green shoot of its own.
These attractive, reddish-purple coloured bulb-lets start small and grow bigger- eventually till they reach maybe the size of a large hazelnut. The bulbs from the tops of the stems can be detached and potted up or put in the earth separately, to grow new, full-sized tree onion plants. If you leave them in place, I suppose their eventual fate would be to fall to the ground when the (surprisingly sturdy) stem that supports them eventually fails - in my slug-infested garden, these stems seem particularly susceptible to being munched through by garden molluscs - and then at that point they'd root close to the parent plant, and begin growing independently from there. Meanwhile, the parent plant is also growing larger, and out from the base, so it has a double-pronged strategy for reproducing vegetatively. Hence these being known as 'everlasting' onions, because they go on and on.
Despite the reference to Egypt in the plant's name, these onions grow perfectly happily outdoors in temperate climates. I was given some small bulb-lets about 15 years ago, and the progeny of this first batch are still going strong - at several locations up and down the country, in fact, as I tend to take new colonies of the plant whenever I move. I mostly plant these onions in containers but they grow well directly in the ground as well; what they don't seem too good at is at competing with faster-growing plants in a garden bed, which is why I find they are more successful grown in pots. They're not too fussy about aspect either, and will grow in full sun as well as in the partial shade.
The bulb-lets are just like miniature onions, down to the papery, purplish outer skin, and if you have an excess of them, instead of being kept for the purposes of propagation, they can be peeled and cooked just like regular, shop-bought eating onions. The younger green eaves of everlasting onions can be use like spring onions (or chives) too, as an added bonus. These plants are very easy to grow, and I would recommend anyone who has a herb bed to include some of these oddly attractive and useful plants. You can easily get them on Ebay, if not from your local garden centre.
I have bough basics onions, for as long as I can remember, even before I used to buy basics, these would be amonsgt the few basics I tems I would have in my trolley.
This is the best baiscs Item in my opinion,I dont think it maks any sence at all to buy the more expensive versions when it is same thing, its just onions, i dont see the reason behind having such expensive other brands.
Basics onions taste the same as other ones, the only difference is that thay are a bit smaller, this dosent make a difference at all, You are supposed to sut them any ways, and ny ways I think smaller ones are easier.
I am a big fan of onions and they are includeed in almost all dishes I make, It just seems stupid to spend so much more money or buying exactly th esame thing, especially if you use it a lot.
Do your self a favour, start buying these!
A wonderful root vegetable, onions are steeped in history, bulbs have been found dating back to the Bronze age. They were considered special in ancient egyptian times with the onion rings being considered to symbolise eternal life. Onions were buried with Egyptians as it was believed that the strong smell would bring breath back to the dead.
There are onions, red onions, spring onions and shallots, onions can be used in salads and as an accompaniment in many dishes, they are native to South east asia and can be used in Curries of Indian and Thai varieties as well as in many Chinese and Japanese dishes. Shallots are used as a great flavour addition to recipes and spring onions are used in all sorts of dishes.
Onions can be roasted and taste amazing this way in roast deals, they can then be used to flavour gravies and sauces. They can be grilled and eaten with strong meats, or else you can fry them and have them with burgers, hot dogs etc.
I enjoy onions in all these formats, as well as eating them raw, they have a strong flavour and taste like they must be good for you. When cutting them they bring tears to your eyes, but when you eat them, they taste great.
Onions can be grown easily enough at home and kept for a week or two, they can be purchased from any shop or supermarket at very cheap prices and make a great accompaniment to meals.
I can't believe I'm actually writing a review about onions but there's a reason my friends...
I ALWAYS have onions in store, so imagine my horror when I realised I'd none at all & my daughter wanted chicken fajeta, I fancied a curry tonight & hubby loves onions with rice.
I was so cross for not checking & got round to thinking about how many we use at home & how we eat them.
They are supposedly good for helping to prevent colds & blocked noses - trust me to run out now when it's minus something outdoors.
You can buy them fozen (never tried them), dried (tried them as a student), apparently canned (but I've never seen them that I can remember?) but the fresh ones are the best.
They're such a versatile veg - chop 'em , slice 'em for salads & sandwiches, use for garnishing, add to dishes such as omeletes to add taste, making cheese on toast, use them in Italian pasta, essential for curries,casseroles - the list is endless!
They are nice baked plain in the oven or just eaten raw with a side dish - one of my favourite starters at Indian Restaurants are thos (what I call) 'pink tomatoes' which are chopped & in a pinky red sauce (excuse me while I salivate).
Onions are an essential ingredient for international cuisine - in fact I can't think of any country that doesn't use onions in their dishes?
I love to cook when I have the time & love making stir-frys in my authentic wok using only fresh veg with a dash of oil - the onions go in first.
I've also cooked a very complicated dish from Ghana which uses tons of ingredients & is very time-consuming to make but which really impresses guests. It uses onions not only in the main chicken dish but also has to be served with loads of garnishes including a bowl of chopped fried onions & a bowl of sliced raw ones - lovely!
Although food has shot up in price I think onions are worth every penny & Tesco & Sainsbury's bags of cheap onions seem just as tasty to me as buying them from the greengrocer.
As you get quite a few in a bag you can always make French onion soup to eat fresh or pop in the freezer for a later date.
Finally, I could not do a review without mentioning pickled onions!
These bring back fond memories of my Granny's onions in jars - enough for the whole village- neatly lined up just ready to be labelled & given away.
The only time I eat pickled ones now is when Santa puts them in my stocking - hate to tell him that I much prefer pickled gherkins these days!
- still good value.
- very versatile.
- healthy if not cooked in a lot of oil or butter.
- great all-year round vegetable.
There are very few Sainsbury's Basics products that I like, but the Basics cooking onions are well worth buying. I use quite a few onions in cooking every week, but when I was recently asked to make a large quantity of French Onion Soup I realised it would be expensive to buy all the onions I would need from the grocer and this is how I discovered this bargain in Sainsbury's.
They come in a clear plastic bag and from first glance you'll see these onions are quite small compared to the huge cooking onions you can buy from the grocer. This doesn't really matter however as most recipes call for onions to be chopped or sliced and the only dish I can imagine these will not be suitable for is baked onions, although you could easily bake yourself two of these rather than one big onion.
The only difference I can see between these onions and the more expensive ones is the fact that the skins on these sometimes look grubby and a little bashed about. This does not affect the onions in the slightest and I have yet to come across an onion that is in a bad condition so that I can't use it.
The onions are crisp and moist inside, they slice well and cook beautifully whether I'm including them in a recipe or simply frying or roasting them. They have a rich and tangy onion flavour without being overly bitter. Try frying these onions in butter and adding them to a hot dog, delicious.
They keep surprisingly well too, which I was surprised about as these are so cheap. I store mine in the fridge as it prevents me crying as I slice or chop them and they stay fresh for quite a while. In fact I had some in my fridge when I went to Birmingham for the week recently and when I got back they had not sweated (I take them out of the plastic bag straight away) and were still fresh enough to use despite being almost two weeks old by then.
A 1.5kg bag of these onions costs 73p at the moment, which is significantly cheaper than other onions in Sainsbury's. I think they are a great buy and my French Onion Soup came out beautifully and received many compliments about the richness of the onions.
We planted our own onions for the first time this year. We saw bulbs for sale and they were so cheap we could not resist. My husband had read that there was going to be a national onion shortage this year, which would drive the prices up and never ones to willing pay extra for something we thought we'd give it a go growing our own.
we planted them in the spring in shallow troughs. My dad has planted some too and he has used individual pots for them. They don't need much room at all. You put the bulb in and cover with soil and just keep watering. Eventually a shoot will appear and then you must be vigilant to ensure you water regularly and don't let them dry out too much. After all, plants are mainly made up from water so how can you create a big juicy onion if you don't give the bulb a drink regularly. However, this year has been pretty wet and we have been pretty lazy so they haven't been treated to a gentle daily shower, more like a bath once a week! They have turned out well though. We're just starting to harvest them and they are tasty and juicy.
If you plant a few each week, they will be ready at intervals and last you all over the summer months.
Take a couple of fresh onions and take your time to chop them up finely while those tears give your eyes a bit of a natural wash thus helping to remedy dry eyes or sore eyes.
Even better, drink a glass or two of water about half an hour beforehand so your tears will be purer perhaps.
Yesterday I was chopping onions for the tea and thinking to myself I need to buy more eyewash although I couldn't be bothered going to the supermarket for it on a Sunday afternoon.
My eyes were feeling dry and a little sore and normally I use some sort of eyewash day to day to keep them moist. After about 15 minutes washing then chopping onions on the chopping board, my eyes started to feel much better and it was all thanks to chopping a couple of fresh onions.
Today (Monday) my eyes still feel better and I probably won't need any eyewash for a couple of days yet.
Always remember to wash the onions first and using fresh onions is best for the tears.
Writing reviews on onions seems to be "the" thing to do right now, so I decided to hop aboard the bandwagon and write me own.
I quickly discovered that it is not as easy as one might think. There is so much you can write about onions that it's hard to know where to begin.
I hope you enjoy reading my attempt and that you find it useful. Any questions - Just ask.
* Meet the Allium Family:
Allium is the name given to the onion genus. There is a staggering amount of spices in the genus, over 1250! The onion genus is of the Alliaceae family although it was wrongly classified by Botanists for years as being part of the Liliaceae, (Lilly), family.
Alliums are perennial, (from the Latin per meaning through and annus meaning year), bulbous plants. Perennial plants live for more than two years.
Most species of alliums are found in temperate climates in the Northern hemisphere with a few exceptions found in Chile, Brazil and Africa.
There is a lot of variety within the Allium family from onions, garlic, leeks to plants that form really beautiful architectural flowers. The bulbs of alliums are generally made up of lots of tiny bulbs called bulbils and along with a seed, this is how alliums re-produce.
Members of the genus include vegetables such as onions and leeks and herbs such as garlic and chives. Nearly all alliums have a strong smell similar to onions, even the ones used for purely decorative purposes. A lot of Allium flowers are tall with long leafless stems and a "bunch" of flowers at the top. The flowers often form almost perfect spheres and come most commonly in shades of white, pink, purple and blue although you can get many different colours.
* Types of Onion:
There are so many types of onion and technically every member of the Allium family is an onion. For the purposes of this review I will concentrate on the ones most commonly used in cooking.
Spring Onions, (Allium fistulosum) = these are known as scallions, salad onions, green onions and cibies. They are simply a member of the Allium family whose root divides into separate plants instead of forming a bulb. Spring onions are used in salads as the flavour tends to be milder than other onions. The spring onion is used widely in oriental food both as an ingredient and as a garnish. Spring onion can have an outer skin in many colours including coppery red and purple.
Leeks, (Allium ampeloprasum var. porrum) = Instead of forming a bulb like most forms of Allium the leek grows in a long cylinder consisting of tightly bundled leaf sheafs. Leaks have a finer flavour than onions and are used extensively in soups, stews and raw in salads. My Mum cooks leeks in milk and they are really nice. You just need to slice up the leek and boil it in milk until soft.
Red Onions, (Allium Cepa Linne) = Red onions are also known as sweet Italian onions, Italian red onions, Creole onions and red torpedo onions. Red onions come in many varieties but they all share common characteristics. They are sweeter than other onions and are eaten raw most often. They are used in salads not only for their flavour but also for their colour. The colour of red onions varies from a bright almost pink, red to a deep purple colour.
Chives, (Allium Schoenoprasum) = Chives are always referred to in the plural because they grow in clumps not singularly. Chives are used as a herb not as a vegetable and chopped up and added to salads or used as a garnish.
Garlic, (Allium sativum) = Garlic does not grow in the wild and it is believed to be the result of cultivation. It most probably stems from the species Allium longicuspis which grows wild in Asia. Garlic has a very intense taste and fragrance. It is mostly used cooked in dishes and is used worldwide. Out of all the members of the Allium family garlic has the most health properties.
Spanish Onions = Also known as storage onions. These are the main varieties available in shops. They are actually from several onion species and are normally labelled by colour. They are the most commonly used onions and are large with a papery outer skin and lots of fleshy layers. Spanish onions can be eaten raw or cooked in many dishes or even fried and eaten as an accompaniment.
Shallots, (Allium oschaninii) = Shallots are more expensive than other varieties of onion and they have a much finer flavour. They are used in cooking, salads and pickling. Shallots can vary in colour from copper to red and purple. In Asian cuisine deep fried shallots are used as a condiment.
Pickling Onions = Sometimes known as cocktail onions. Pickling onions are either shallots or pearl onions. They are harvested small. Once pickled in vinegar and spices they are eaten as an accompaniment and used in cocktails.
Tree Onions, (Allium cepa var. proliferum) = The tree onion is commonly called the walking onion, top onion or Egyptian onion. The stem produces bulbils instead of flowers and the stems then bend down and grow eventually producing another plant. The bulbils are used for pickling and in salads.
* Nutritional Information:
(Based on an average sized onion)
Raw onion has 54 kcal/225 kJ - 1.8g protein - 11.9g carbohydrate - 5mg Sodium - 38mg Calcium.
Fried onion has 66 kcal/275 kJ - 0.9g protein - 5.9g carbohydrate - 2mg Sodium - 19mg Calcium.
Pickled onions have 4 kcal/17 kJ - 0.1g protein - 0.7g carbohydrate - 68mg Sodium - 3mg Calcium.
* The History of Onions:
Onions leave little or no trace when decomposed and because of this it is very hard to trace the exact origins of onions. However, it is widely believed that onions originated in either central Asia or Iran and West Pakistan.
Traces of onion remains have been found in Palestinian Bronze age settlements dating back to 5000 B.C.
It is believed that the onions first used were wild onions and the cultivation of onions happened around 3000-3500 B.C. in both China and Egypt. Onions are believed to be one of the earliest domesticated vegetables. This is due to the ease of growing, easy portability and long "shelf" life; onions also grow well in most types of soil and climates.
The ancient Egyptians actually worshipped onions as they believed that the spherical shape and layers of flesh symbolised eternal life. Pictures of onion have been found on the internal walls of pyramids both in the old kingdom and the new kingdom.
Onions were often used during mummification. They have been found placed in the pelvic regions, the throat, the ears, the chest, attached to the soles of the feet and arranged along the legs. King Rameses was found with traces of onion in his eye sockets. It is believed that Egyptians considered the onion magical as it had strong antiseptic properties and this along with the strong smell would bring breath back to the dead.
Onions are even mentioned in the Bible. In Numbers 11:5, the children of Israel lament the meagre desert diet enforced by the Exodus:
"We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic."
This corresponds with the belief that the workers on the pyramids were fed onions and radishes.
In ancient Greece athletes ate large quantities of onions as they believed it would lighten the balance of the blood. In ancient Rome they were rubbed into the muscles of gladiators to firm them up.
In the middle ages the three staple vegetables in the European diet were beans, onions and cabbage. It is believed that the Romans spread onions all over Europe and they were introduced to North America by Christopher Columbus.
Onions were once highly prized and were used as currency to pay rent and strike bargains. Onions were even given as gifts, especially wedding gifts.
The pilgrims took onions with them on the Mayflower and were surprised to find that they already grew throughout America and that the Native Americans used them extensively for both culinary and medicinal uses. Diaries of pilgrims state that onions were planted as soon as the ground had been cleared.
Since then onions have become part of everyday life. They are very cheap and versatile making them common in kitchens all over the world.
* How to Cut an Onion:
There is a lot of debate in the culinary world about the correct way to cut an onion. I have my way which is what I will describe here.
Firstly I cut off the "furry" bottom bit and the top where the stem would have been.
Next I place one of the now flat bits on the chopping board and cut the onion in half. If you look at the rings you want to cut cleanly across the middle.
Next I lay one of the halves flat against the board and cut through the rounded side to make half moon shapes. You will be able to see the layers and it will look a bit like a rainbow.
I quite often leave them like that. They break up into little smile shapes when you add them to the pan. If I want them smaller I hold the slices together firmly and cut cross ways from the way I have just cut them.
I find this the easiest way as the layers of the onion does a lot of the work for you.
* Growing Onions:
I have never grown onions but my parents used to and they have told me that is very easy. I have however grown chives, possibly the easiest thing in the world to grow, and garlic.
I don't feel qualified to tell you how to grow onions but I can refer you to some very helpful websites.
* Medicinal Uses:
There are many known health benefits associated with eating onions and garlic. These benefits were well known to our ancestors. Since early civilisation, mankind has used onions for their powerful healing qualities.
Modern advice which has been backed up by scientific evidence emphasizes the benefits of a daily intake of garlic and onions.
It is accepted that pungent natural foods contain chemicals that can protect the body from a huge range of illnesses and diseases.
Extensive tests on humans have concluded that a regular intake of onions can:
Lower "bad" cholesterol and raise "good" HDL cholesterol
Lower blood pressure
Reduce the risk of blood clots
Kill off viruses and bacteria
Reduce the risk of certain cancers, especially stomach cancers.
Reduce the risks of diabetes
Stimulate cell growth
Kills worms and parasites
Help strengthen and improve the condition of hair
Scientific tests have further identified a compound in onions called "quercetin" which is a powerful antioxidant and cancer-attacking agent.
* Myth, Lore and Trivia:
It was once believed that the smell of onions would repel dragons and the scent of garlic would do the same for Vampires.
The Elven, (a language made up by Tolkien), word for onion is "Ae'lon" and means tear.
It is believed in European folklore that garlic can ward off the "evil eye".
It is lucky to dream about garlic being in your house and dreaming that you are eating garlic means you will soon uncover a secret.
Homer reported that Ulysses owed his escape from Circe to yellow garlic.
There is a Mohammedan story that when Satan left the Garden of Eden, garlic appeared where his left foot rested and onion under his right.
The Talmud, a collection of Jewish laws and traditions, recommends garlic to be eaten on a Friday night.
Alliums are not considered vegetarian by Chinese and Buddhist vegetarianism.
The foods of Mabon, a Pagan festival celebrating the autumn equinox, consist of the gleanings of the Second Harvest including onions.
It is believed that hanging a bulb of garlic in new home helps to dispel negative energy and if a clove of garlic is placed under a child's pillow it will ward off nightmares.
It is said that Nero ate leeks to improve his speaking voice.
The Welsh use the leek as their national emblem, this stems from the battle against the Saxons, during which the Welsh wore leeks on their caps so that they could tell friend from foe.
During the Nazi occupation of France, Picasso, who was desperately hungry, painted leeks to feed his soul.
Romanian Gypsies have used chives in fortune telling.
The Romans believed chives could relieve the pain from sunburn or a sore throat. They believed that eating chives would increase blood pressure and acted as a diuretic.
1 sachet of dried active yeast
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 ½ cups of warm water
2 teaspoons of salt, (optional)
2 tablespoons of butter
1 tablespoon of diced onions
½ teaspoon of dried oregano
3 ½ cups of bread flour
2 tablespoon melted butter
Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water and leave in a warm place until creamy and frothy.
Stir the salt, un-melted butter, diced onions, oregano and the flour into the yeast. Cover with a sheet of greased Clingfilm and leave to rise in a warm place for about an hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
Knock the air out of the dough and place in a greased loaf pan. Cover again with greased Clingfilm and leave to rise for 40 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 190oC/ gas mark 5.
Arrange slices of onion on the top of the loaf. Pour over the melted butter and bake for 35 - 40 minutes until golden brown. The bread should sound hollow when tapped on the base.
Cool on a wire rack.
This is also delicious if after 30 minutes you take it out of the oven and sprinkle cheddar cheese over the top and return to the oven for the remaining time.
Serve with soup, stews or use to make sandwiches.
1 lb. onions sliced
1 egg, beaten
1 cup double cream
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
½ cup grated Cheddar cheese
A pinch of paprika
Preheat oven to 200oC/Gas mark 6.
Put the onions in a saucepan with a knob of butter and cook until slightly browned. Cover with water and boil for 5 minutes.
Transfer to a casserole dish.
In bowl mix the egg, cream and salt. Pour this mixture over the onions.
Sprinkle with cheese and then the paprika.
Bake for 25 minutes.
This is great served with cooked meats or on it's own with a green salad.
In conclusion onions are varied, cheap, plentiful and versatile. They are widely available throughout the year and are stored easily. Onions can be dried or powdered and add flavour to many dishes. In addition onions have many health benefits.
I love onions and yes, I would recommend them to potential buyers!
*Also on Ciao.