The average American consumes “18 pounds” per year.
A medium sized one (150g) has about 60 calories, no fat hence no cholesterol. A good source of vitamin C even more than an apple, and it contains several B vitamins.
Did you know?
Onions are a member of the allium family and count up to 500+ different varieties.
Unlike sweet white onions, regular or yellow onions have high levels of sulfur compounds. Like garlic, onions have an enzyme which is called alliinase which , when exposed to oxygen, causes tearing or let’s call it the-crying-factor.
Its’s the pyruvic acid in the sulfur that causes tears, harshness, and indigestion. That is why sweet onions are always grown in soil with low amounts of sulfur. Typically, sweet onions have pyruvic acid levels that measure below 5%.
Sweet onions are fresh onions high in water content, further diluting the harsh effect of the sulfur. The flavorful, sharp regular onion is usually stored over the winter months. Mild, sweet onions usually have a thinnner, light colored skin compared to storage onions. They are more fragile. Another indication is the price, they are a premium product hence they’re expensive. Onions contain a variety of organic sulfur compounds that provide health benefits. Lowering and cleansing blood pressure next to many other health benefits. Onions have a long history of healing. Sulfur is an antioxidant, and protects cell membranes from damage. They are said to pelp prevent thrombosis and reduce hypertension according to the American Heart Association. During World War II, soldiers applied onions on wounds as an antiseptic.
Braised Rabbit - spring onions, squash, pepper and green mustard
Store onions at room temperature away from bright light and in a well ventilated area. The length of storage capability varies with the type of onions -- those that are more pungent in flavor, such as yellow onions will keep longer than those with a sweeter taste, such as white onions. Green onions such as spring onions should be stored in plastic bags in the refrigerator so they can be stored for up to a week. Store onions away from potatoes, as they will absorb their moisture and ethylene gas, causing them to spoil.
Cut onions oxidize quickly, they become bitter, so you will need to use them within a few hours.
How to prevent tearing
Several of the sulfur-containing compounds are responsible for prodcing tears when an onion is cut. Chill onions before cutting. Also using a sharp knife will make you cry less too.
Seriously good money was spent in the sweet onion research to come up with hybrid varieties which can sustain rot and are resistant to diseases and molds An average of 300 50-pound bags of Vidalias are produced per acre. Sweet onions should have at least 6% sugar some have recorded sugar levels of up to 12 %. Sweet onions have an exceptionally gentle nature and mild aroma – backed by rich onion flavor, without the bite, with a crispy texture and juiciness similar to an apple. Some of the qualities: no fumes when cut, virtually tearless, mild subtle aroma, high in sugar and low in pungency, sweet, almost fruity flavor, with a pleasant oniony taste, and extremely digestable. They are harvested in December brought to the market from January through March. Use raw for sandwiches in burgers and in salsa-like preparations where a raw onion is used. Caramelized for stews.
Here are some types of sweet onions:
Vidalia – From Georgia and in fact named for a town in Georgia.
Availability: April to late June but available through controlled atmoshpere storage (no chemicals are used) in months like Novemeber or December.
The Vidalia onion was elevated to “official state vegetable” status in 1990.
- Texas 1015 super sweet aka “The-million-dollar-baby” nicknamed because of the money spent to develop it.
Availability: March to mid-June
- Sweet Imperial CA: Grown in rich, loamy, desert soil in Southern Calfiornia’s Imperial Valley
- Walla Walla County: southeastern Washington
Availability: mid-June to mid-August
The high moisture and sugar content make them fragile, shelf life of only 2-3 weeks from time of harvest. (Walla Walla is also a great wine region.)
- Oso sweet onion Chile: Andes Mountain region provides ideal conditions for growing a world premier onion. The rich fertile volcanic soil and pristine water makes the onions reach a sugar level as high as 15% -- higher than most fruits.
My Favorite Onion Source:
Alex Paffenroth – Paffenroth Farms. He is called the “king of the root crops”. He farms in the Hudson Valley mostly onions (nine different kinds) next to potatoes (eleven + kinds from La Ratte to Purple Majesty), winter squash and such.
He says “from my garden to your table food less traveled.”
Meet Alex at the Union Square Greenmarket NYC