Essential things you should know about onions

Onions are among the most versatile cooking ingredients. A culinary staple that farmers have been growing for ages, onions vary in shapes, sizes, colors, and types.

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Onions are among the most versatile cooking ingredients. A culinary staple that farmers have been growing for ages, onions vary in shapes, sizes, colors, and types. And while it is true that slicing them up can bring tears to your eyes, the benefits of onions easily outweigh this discomfort.

One of the most amazing things about onions is that they don’t go bad quickly. But how long whole onions last in the fridge will depend on how you store them. This article will give you details on how to store onions, tips to include them in your diet, and other helpful information.

Why do the eyes tear up while cutting onions?

When being chopped, onions have a notorious reputation for making one cry and can also cause pain in the eyes for quite a bit of time. Many people dislike cutting onions for this reason. But why does it happen?

Onions release a chemical called lachrymatory factor when you slice into them. This chemical affects the nerves in the eyes, causing a painful, stinging sensation. As a result, the eyes water to flush out the chemical from them. The roots of the onions have more of this chemical. So, if you try to leave them on for longer while cutting onions, it may reduce the tears.

Also, refrigerating the onion for about thirty minutes before cutting them will cause the chemical to evaporate quickly. Alternatively, you can use goggles while cutting the onions if you have sensitive eyes.

Beer battered onion rings
Beer battered onion rings

Types and uses

There are many varieties of onions, and each has a versatile set of uses. Some popular onion varieties and their uses are as follows.

  • Red onions

These are among the most popular varieties and can be eaten raw or used in garnishes and salads. A bonus is that they maintain most of their eye-catching color even when you grill them.

  • Shallots

Many people often mistake shallots for garlic because of their similar size. They have a bold, almost sweet flavor. You can sauté them and add them to gravies, sauces, or vegetable dishes. 

  • Scallions

Also known as green onions, scallions have a pleasant, mild taste. For this reason, many people prefer to stir-fry them or use them raw in salads or as a garnish in pastas or soups.

  • Vidalias 

Grown in the low-sulfur Georgia soil, Vidalias have an intense sweetness that makes them great to be eaten raw. You can make delicious onion rings out of them, or caramelize and add them to casseroles or roast dishes.

  • Yellow onions

These are packed with flavor and can be used in almost every savory dish. They turn delicate brown when fried and add a tanginess to the dish.

  • White onions

Although they look similar to yellow onions, white ones are crisper and have a sweeter taste. They work well in pizzas, salads, and sandwiches.

  • Spring onions

Spring onions are tender, young onions harvested early. Similar to scallions with greens at the top and white at the bottom, they are excellent for garnishing.

Tortillas with sausages, white cabbage and crispy onions
Tortillas with sausages, white cabbage and crispy onions

How long do whole onions last in the fridge

Spring bulbs such as scallions, ramps, and spring onions need refrigeration to retain freshness. You can ensure this by storing them in the vegetable compartment. But first, you should wrap them up in a paper towel and put them in a ziplock bag. They can last for about two weeks this way.

On the other hand, storage bulbs such as red or sweet onions don’t need to be put into the fridge. They must be stored in a dry, humid-free place so that moisture doesn’t cause them to mold. Proper ventilation will increase their shelf life.

However, if there is no other option but to put whole onions in the fridge, ensure they aren’t in a plastic bag as it could spoil them faster. You can use a netted bag or a basket to keep the onions well ventilated.

Easy ways to include onions in diet

Onions are an undeniable staple in kitchens across the world. Here are some exciting ways to include onions in your diet.

  • Eat them raw.
  • Caramelize and add them as a garnish to savory dishes.
  • Pickle onions and consume them as a side dish.
  • Sauté and add them to stir-fry vegetable dishes.
  • Use them as a base for soups and stocks.
  • Blend them with herbs, olive oil, and vinegar to make a delicious salad dressing.
Quick pickled red onions
Quick pickled red onions

Onions have medical benefits

Research has found that onions have antioxidants such as allium that can help prevent stomach and colorectal cancer. Also, the sulfur compound allicin in onions can boost bone health by strengthening collagen in bones. Inulin in onions improves gut health by promoting the growth of good bacteria. It can prevent constipation and also regulate insulin.

Besides these, onion juice can help clear acne scars, slow down skin aging, and prevent allergies.

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