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I first bought Whitworths Dried Onions when I had run out of fresh onions and so had my local corner shop. The assistant suggested them as an alternative to me. I had seen them in shops before but I didn't really know what to do with them.
They come in a small cardboard box measuring 40g, with the onions themselves sealed in a plastic bag. The bag isn't re-sealable, so if you don't use the whole lot at once you will have to find somewhere to store the remainder. As they are very pungent, it would have to be an airtight container away from other foods! Having said that, I find that I tend to use half a box in one go, with that being about the equivalent of one good size onion. I don't measure it carefully, just by eye knowing what my families tastes are.
The onions don't smell too much until the packet is open. Once it has been, I find the scent strong, even for onions. It doesn't make my eyes run though, which is a nice bonus because I am usually streaming at the slightest whiff of even a spring onion! The pieces look like pale, papery flakes. They have a yellowish tinge when raw, but this fades to a white colour once cooked. They feel dry and slightly rough. The pieces are various sizes, so the flakes look like a rougly chopped onion rather than neat dices. They don't look much like onions really at this stage but that soon improves. They don't really increase much in size once cooked but this fact makes it easier to judge how much to add at the dried stage.
You are advised to cook them in boiling for 5 minutes before use, if you wish to add them to dishes such as pies and pizzas. They really do cook in that time. The biggest hassle is in ensuring that they are very well drained afterwards. Some of the pieces are small so to avoid loosing any you need to use a fine sieve. This is only a minor problem though. Once cooked, they taste exactly like a fresh onion, and have a good texture, being just soft enough but they stil have bite. I have used them in this way in many pies and quiches, and the flavour isn't distinguishable from the fresh kind. I have found them fiddly to use in dishes where the onion needs to be fried because they are difficult to really dry once boiled, and if you do not the oil tends to spit. Apart from that, they make a quick and easy addition to all sorts of dishes. Stirring a few into mash potatoes, along with mustard, is an easy way of adding some extra flavour for example. They also taste great on burgers.
If you want to add the onion to a soup, sauces or stew, you don't have to pre-cook the pieces, but you can add them directly to the pan. This makes using them even more convenient. My boyfriend enjoys eating them raw, but I don't like the intense taste, which mellows on cooking.
Overall, I would recommend these as a useful stock cupboard standby. They have a long shelf life - the packet I bought a couple of weeks ago has a best before date of March 2014! They cost me 49p in my local corner shop, and are a similar price in the supermarkets, so they are hardly expensive. Well worth a try, especially if you don't like preparing onions. They can't replace the real thing entirely, as you can't bake dried onions for example, but for many meals they are are a handy addition.
[This review also appears on Ciao.]
Whitworths is well known for dried fruit and vegetables - more fruit though I think.
It was 1886 when the business was first formed and it grew rapidly in the 1950's.
Their suppliers now exist in over 80 countries around the world.
Dried onions are a convenient and easy way to add flavour to any dish.
I was made aware of dried onions as a child, my mum used them in dishes such as 'tatty ash' and cottage pie. I asked her why she used them instead of real onions as I remember my nana having onions and pickled onions in bowls of water (not sure why or if I remember correctly). Her reply was that she didn't like onions so that's why she added dried ones, hmmm aren't they still onions but she insisted that they weren't as strong tasting and dissolved in the food so you couldn't taste them (so why put them in?)
As I grew up and got a home of my own I never really used dried onions I grated real ones as I wasn't a lover of eating onions but they added a nice flavour to dishes.
The problem with this was that my eyes watered and my hands stunk of onions for what seemed like days. Also a lot of times they got wasted if they weren't used so when I saw some Whitworths dried onions I decided to buy them.
The first thing is you can't use them in salads and on sandwiches, they can only be used for cooking with.
They come in a box with Whitworths dried onions wrote on the box and a picture of about 5 onions. When you open the box you see a cellophane bag with the onions in, they are a creamy colour and are different shapes and sizes; they look like material that has gone really hard or even wood chippings.
Open the bag and there is an onion smell but not quite as strong as a fresh onion, so I added them to my cottage pie that I was cooking.
Did it taste any different than if fresh onion had been used - I don't really think so but I make cottage pie with tinned tomatoes and not gravy so the tomato is a strong taste. Thinking back to what my mum said the big dried onions did not dissolve at all and it still added flavour.
So are they better than fresh onions - well they are certainly more convenient, I find it so easy to just get them out of the cupboard as they have a long shelf life (the ones I bought had a date about 2 years in front). My hands don't stink either (I really don't like smelling of food after I have cooked or prepared it) which is a plus.
They can be used in most dishes such as casseroles, stews, soups, pies you could even use them in stir fries and on your burger if you fry them.
They come in 40 gram boxes and cost around 80pence.
I would recommend them especially if you are short on time or don't like crying when preparing real onions .