No other group of ingredients
is more versatile and basic to cooking than the famous member of the
family - onion. Cultivated around the world for over 5,000 years onion
is thought to be of central Asian origin. Onion was certainly
by the Egyptians as far back as 3200 BC. Egyptians made offerings of
their gods, took oats on an onion, they used onions as part of the
process and depicted the onions frequently in their tomb paintings. The
ancient Egyptians also traded eight tones of gold for onions to feed
builders of the pyramids. The builders of the famous pyramids at Giza
reputed to have been paid partly in onions.
well known Allium family
encompasses more than 500 members and most of them are edible, but not
all are good to eat. Famous members of Allium family like green onions
(also called scallions), sweet onions (white, yellow and red
dried garlic, fresh garlic, chives, shallots, leeks, pearl onions (also
white, yellow and red varieties), rocambole (sand leek) and many others
are indispensable in countless dishes from soups to salads and are also
a great source of B vitamins, vitamin C, calcium and potassium.
are incredibly versatile
and each cuisine has its own rules regarding the treatment of onions.
onions are the most common cooking onions and have the strongest
White onions have a sharp fresh taste and red onions are slightly
and crisper. Leeks are related to both onion and garlic but milder in
and excellent in soups or braised. The flavor of Welsh onions lies
leeks and onions. Spanish and Bermuda onions are chrisp, sweet and
Vidalia, Walla Walla and Maui are super sweet varieties and often eaten
raw. Pearl onions are very small and mild and usually cooked whole in
pickled or braised. Shallots taste like a cross between a mild onion
garlic. Chives have a light onion aroma and spicy onion flavor. Chinese
chives are more garlicky and used in spring rolls, with tofu, eggs or
dishes. Green onions are young onions with long green tops and mild
folk healers have advocated
onions as a "heart healer" and remedy for hundreds of other medical
including treatment of infections, wounds, curing baldness and the
cold. There is no scientific evidence to support all the claims, but
new researchers have now confirmed that an organic compound in onions,
called ADENOSINE, functions as an anticoagulating agent as effective as
aspirin. The other compound ALLICIN, discovered also in all the members
of the Allium family is a powerful antibacterial agent. Furthermore,
have discovered that sulfur compounds in onions (compounds that are
for the characteristic onion odor), fight the certain stomach cancers.
onions, garlic is the
most widely used member of Allium species. Used raw or cooked, garlic
essential in most cuisines around the world. The Koreans hold the
in consumption per capita, followed by the Southeast Asians, then the
around the Mediterranean.
Onions are best chopped by hand, food processors will change their
and texture. Onions lose flavour very quickly, so chop them just before
using. If peeling and chopping onions makes you teary-eyed, try to hold
the onions under cold water as you peel them and rinse the onions in
water then chop. You could also try to place them in the freezer for 20
minutes before peeling. When peeling a pearl onions, soak them for a
or two in boiling water, then rinse under cold water. The skins will
slip off easily.
smell of onions on your hands bothers you, try rubbing your hands with
a few drops of lemon juice or vinegar or roll fresh lavender flowers
the fingers. If you want to clear your breath, eat some mint, celery
or a sprig of parsley.
|BUYING & STORING: Choose onions that are firm, have a crisp, dry skin and no
that feel light for their size may already have started to rot inside.
Store onions in a cool, dry well ventilated and dark place.
|Did You Know?
|It is thought that bulbs
from the onion family have been used as a food source for millennia. In
Bronze Age settlements, traces of onion remains were found alongside
fig and date stones dating back to 5000 BC.
The Ancient Egyptians worshipped onion, believing that its
spherical shape and concentric rings symbolized eternal life. Onions
were even used in Egyptian burials as evidenced by onion traces being
found in the eye sockets of Ramesses IV.
In ancient Greece, athletes ate large quantities of onion because it
was believed that it would lighten the balance of blood.
Roman gladiators were rubbed down with onion to firm up their muscles.
In the Middle Ages onions were such an important food that people would
pay their rent with onions and even give them as gifts.
Doctors were known to prescribe onions to facilitate bowel movements
and erection, and also to relieve headaches, coughs, snakebite and hair
The onion was introduced to North America by Christopher Columbus on
his 1492 expedition to Hispaniola.
Onions were also prescribed by doctors in the early 1500s to help with
infertility in women, and even dogs and cattle and many other household
pets. However, recent evidence has shown that dogs, cats, and other
animals should not be given onions in any form, due to toxicity during