Choosing the Right Onion

Can you have a hamburger without a slice of onion on it? What about a hot dog without diced onions? Well, certainly you CAN have these without onions, but they won’t be quite as good. If, however, you’re unsure of which onion to use, learn how choosing the right onion can make all the difference in the foods you prepare and enjoy.

While you may enjoy eating onions plain, they are a great addition to hearty warm dishes. But which one do you choose?

Onions are found in three basic colors: red, white and yellow. They also fall in two category types: dry and green. Most onions you find in the grocery store are dry onions. They are harvested once the tops have dried and they are large and bulbous.

Red onion varieties include Giant Red Hamburger, Salad Red, and Red Delicious. These onions are great eaten as raw slices on sandwiches or cut up into salads. Chop them up and add them to homemade salsas or cut them into chunks, skewer them and grill them as shish kabobs. Red onions do not store as well as the lighter varieties.

White onion varieties include the Snow White hybrid, White White and White Granex. They can be served either raw or cooked as they can be quite mild. They are often sautéed and give the foods a sweet flavor. They are often used in traditional Mexican cuisine.

Yellow onions include the Candy hybrid, Walla Walla Sweet, Granex (or Vidalia), Yellow hybrid, Texas Super Sweet, Sweet and Early hybrid, Yellow Ebenezer, Savannah Sweet, Sweet Spanish hybrid and Texas Grano. Yellow onions can be used in nearly any type of preparation whether raw, sautéed, baked or made into French onion soup.  They have a sweet, tangy flavor that is unmistakable. They are considered one of the best types of onions to use in cooking. Maui, another type of yellow onion, is one of the better choices for making onion rings because they are flat; Vidalia is another variety that makes good onion rings.

Green, or bunching, onions are harvested before they are young shoots. These are often found in salads or diced up in soups and dried as baked potato toppings. Varieties include Evergreen Long White, Parade and White Lisbon and Scallions. They can be sweet flavored but may also be hot depending upon when they were harvested.

Leeks are also a type of bunching onion. They are pale green and the only part that is edible is the stalk or stem of the onion. These should be fried rather than boiled because they can become mushy. They can also be made into soup or eaten raw.

There are many varieties of onions to choose from when preparing meals. While the lists above is not exhaustive, it does give an idea of what types are available and gives ideas on how to use them. Consider the different types of onions you have available to you and then choose one that best fits the type of cuisine you want to enjoy.

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