Onion For Different Climates: A Guide To Onion Plant Varieties

The following are some of the most common onions used in cooking. They all have their own unique flavor profile. All of them are edible when properly prepared.

However, they do not taste good fresh from the garden or at your local grocery store. You need to cook these onions to get maximum flavor out of them!

White Onions

These are the easiest to grow and are grown in large quantities. White onions come in many colors including red, yellow, orange, green and purple. Most white onions are harvested before they turn brown and then dried for later use.

These onions make great additions to salads, sandwiches or soups. They retain their color well even after being cooked so they’re perfect for serving up hot!

Long Day Onions

These onions are usually smaller than white onions but still produce a nice crisp texture when cut. Long days are best eaten raw or lightly steamed. They retain their bright color well even after being cooked so they’re ideal for serving up hot!

Medium Days (or Green Onions)

These onions are similar to medium days except they have a lighter green color and less pungent odor. They can be eaten raw or lightly cooked. They make a great addition to salads and other light meals.

Shallots

These are basically a type of onion but with a much stronger flavor. They’re great for adding flavor to soups, sauces, stews, dressings or marinades since they don’t take away from the primary ingredient in the dish. Shallots can also be eaten by themselves as a side dish or treat.

Pearl Onions

These are small onions that often look like shiny pearls in their shells when harvested. These are my favorite kind of onion and they’re perfect for just popping in your mouth or adding to a light meal. They have a very mild taste and great texture.

Storage

Before storing your onions you must cure them first. This process basically ensures the onions have less of a tendency to make you tear up while you’re chopping them. To cure an onion, simply leave the papery skin on the onion and slice off the top.

Place the root end in a glass of water and place it in a cool dark spot in your home. They should be good to go within a day or two. After curing your onions, you can store them for several months in a cool dry place like a cupboard or shelf.

You should also try to keep your storage area pest free! I like to keep a small reptile tank lamp hung from the ceiling and leave it on 24/7 in that area. This helps ward off any insects that may find their way in there.

Tips

Do not throw away the green tops! These can often be used just like garlic and stored for later use. Some people even grow plants from the green tops and then eat the bulbs when they’re mature enough.

Do not put your face over a bowl of onions and start chopping! It can make you cry and possibly make you sick if the onion juice goes down the wrong pipe. Always chop onions with your body at least a 45 degree angle from the direction of the onion and use a very sharp knife.

This prevents most of the juice from squirting into your eyes.

Do not store your onions in the fridge! Cool temperatures actually cause onions to make you cry more than normal.

Always use a good quality knife when chopping an onion. This will prevent the onion’s enzymes from damaging the edge of your blade as quickly.

Try not to chop an entire pile of onion at once, this will quickly turn into a toxic mess that you really don’t want to be anywhere near. Spread it out and do it bit by bit instead. This also helps in controlling how much you’re going to be crying while you’re chopping it all up!

There are some great tools you can get to help keep those onion fumes from getting you down while preparing your food. The one I have has a long stick with a plastic shield over the front. You can breath easily and safely while chopping away!

Try soaking wooden cutting boards in water regularly. Onions will sometimes cause them to crack and splinter which can be dangerous.

Make sure to cut away any brown spots you see on the surface of your onion. These are an indication that the onion is rotting and could be dangerous to consume in large quantities.

Always wash your hands after handling onions. The oil from them can get under your fingernails and really make you cry while you’re trying to fall asleep!

Never throw an onion away if it’s begun to sprout. It’s not rotten, it’s just becoming sweet. There are many uses for this type of onion!

Sources & references used in this article:

Flowering and seed production in overwintered cultivars of bulb onions. II. Quantitative relationships between mean temperatures and daylengths and the rate of … by JL Brewster – Journal of Horticultural Science, 1982 – Taylor & Francis

Nutrient management for onions in the Pacific Northwest by JN Corgan, N Kedar – CRC Press. Boca Raton, 1990

Effect of curing at different temperatures on biochemical composition of onion (Allium cepa L.) skin from three freshly cured and cold stored UK-grown onion cultivars by DM Sullivan, BD Brown, CC Shock, DA Horneck… – 2001 – ir.library.oregonstate.edu

Onion Cultivars Differ in Pungency and Bulb Quality Changes during by K Downes, GA Chope, LA Terry – Postharvest biology and technology, 2009 – Elsevier

1 6 Onions in the Tropics: Cultivars and Country Reports by DE Kopsell, WM Randle – HortScience, 1997 – journals.ashs.org

International collaborative trials to evaluate short-day onions by L Currah – Allium crop science: recent advances, 2002 – books.google.com

Comparison of sprinkler, trickle and furrow irrigation efficiencies for onion production by L Currah, SM Green – I International Symposium on Edible Alliaceae …, 1994 – actahort.org

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