Discover Onions

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Lawn & Garden
Don’t shed a tear for onions! This resilient and nutritious vegetable is a fantastic addition to your diet and garden. It thrives in various climates, and there are numerous types to choose from. In this article, we will discuss growing onions, onion varieties, selecting and cooking onions, and the health advantages of onions.


Onion Image Gallery


©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
Onions are typically grown as annuals, although they are biennial vegetables.
Discover more images of onions.

Onions are robust biennial vegetables that are commonly grown as annuals. They have hollow leaves, and the base of the stem swells to create a bulb. The bulbs range in color from white to yellow or red. The flower stalk is also hollow, taller than the leaves, and topped with a bunch of white or lavender flowers.

Common Name: Onion
Scientific Name: Allium cepa
Hardiness: Very hardy (will survive first frost)

Are you interested in adding onions to your vegetable garden? Visit the next page for our onion-growing advice.

Are you looking for more information about onions? Check out these links:

  • Why do onions make you cry? Find out what causes tears when cutting onions.
  • Vegetable Gardens: Grow a full harvest of great vegetables this year.
  • Gardening: We answer your questions about all things that come from the garden.

Growing Onions

Onions are an excellent addition to most gardens, with varieties suited to most climates. Most onions are sensitive to the length of the day. Bulb-type varieties are classified as either long-day or short-day onions. Long-day onions will produce bulbs when grown in the summer months in the North. Short-day onions produce bulbs in the mild winter climate of the South. American onions and Spanish onions require long days to produce their bulbs, while Bermuda onions prefer short days.


©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
Long-day bulb onions require long
summer days to produce their
bulbs.

Temperature is a crucial factor for onions as they require cool weather for producing their tops and warm weather for producing their bulbs. Onions are frost-hardy and can be planted four weeks before the last frost date. The planting season for onions in the South is either fall or winter depending on the variety. Onions are available in the form of sets, transplants, and seeds. Sets are small bulbs that are dormant, and the smaller they are, the better. Transplants are more dependable in producing bulbs and available in more varieties than sets. Seeds are the least expensive and offer the most varieties, but take the longest time to develop and are susceptible to disease and environmental problems.

Onions require a well-prepared bed with the removal of all lumps to a depth of at least 6 inches. The soil should be rich in organic matter and fertile. Full sun is needed for bulbing onions, whereas green onions can grow in partial shade. Transplants or sets should be planted 1-2 inches deep and 2-3 inches apart. Seeds should be planted 1/4 inch deep and thinned to 1-2 inches apart. Onions can be grown between other vegetables if space is limited. The soil should not be allowed to dry out until the plants have matured.

All onion varieties can be eaten as green onions, and some are grown specifically for their bulbs. Leaves can be harvested whenever required. Bulbs can be harvested when the green onion bulb is not much larger than the leaves, and dry onion bulbs can be harvested after the leaves have dried. The bulbs should be lifted out of the soil and dried before storing.

Onions come in bulbing and green onion varieties, and any onion type can be eaten as a green onion. Bulbing onions are categorized into long-day and short-day types. Long-day onions produce bulbs in the summer months in northern climates, whereas short-day onions prefer the South’s cool winter months.

There are various types of onions, and green onion types include Evergreen Long White Bunching, which produces long silvery-white stalks in bunches and does not form bulbs, and Beltsville Bunching, which is heat-tolerant and has a mild flavor.

Bulbing Onion Varieties:

  • Southport Red Globe, which takes 110 days to harvest, is a long-day onion with sweet, purple-red flesh.
  • Yellow Sweet Spanish, which takes 110 days to harvest, is a long-day onion with large, white flesh.
  • Bermuda, which takes 185 days to harvest, is a short-day onion that is large and produces white flesh with a mild flavor.
  • Yellow Granax (also known as Vidalia), which takes 120 days to harvest, is a short-day onion that is large with white flesh.
  • Walla Walla Sweet, which takes 56 days to harvest, is cold hardy with sweet white flesh.
  • Redwing, which takes 59 days to harvest, is the best red onion.

After growing onions, the next step is to learn how to select and serve them. Check out the next section for more information.

If you want to know more about onions, here are some helpful links:

  • Why do onions make you cry? Find out the reason behind the waterworks.
  • Vegetable Gardens: Grow a full harvest of great vegetables this year.
  • Gardening: We answer your questions about all things that come from the garden.

How to Select Onions

There are various types of onions, and it’s important to choose the best one for your cooking needs.

Dry onions are common onions (yellow, white, or red) that don’t need refrigeration, unlike green onions, which spoil quickly when stored at room temperature.

Dry onions come in different shapes and colors, but the color or shape isn’t an indication of their taste or strength. White or yellow globe onions maintain their pungent flavor when cooked, while all-purpose white or yellow onions are milder. Sweet onions, such as Bermuda, Spanish, and Italian, are the mildest.

Pick firm dry onions with shiny, thin skins. Make sure the “necks” are tight and dry. If they appear too dry or discolored or have soft, wet spots, they’re not fresh.

Dry onions last three to four weeks when stored in a cool, dark, dry place. Don’t store them near potatoes, which release a gas that causes onions to rot. Light makes onions bitter. If you cut an onion, wrap it in plastic, refrigerate it, and use it within a day or two.

Green onions, also known as “spring” onions because they’re harvested during that season, have small white bulbs and thin green stalks. Though they’re often sold as scallions, true scallions have straight green stalks with no bulb. Choose green onions with crisp, not wilted, tops. For a pungent taste, pick fatter bulbs; for a sweeter taste, go for smaller bulbs. Green onions need to be refrigerated and keep best in an open plastic bag in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.


©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
Try chilling onions before slicing to avoid the tear-inducing fumes.

Here are some tips for preparing and serving onions. If you want to avoid shedding tears while slicing onions, try cutting them under running water. Alternatively, you can chill them for an hour before slicing. To remove the onion smell from your hands, rub them with lemon juice or vinegar.

Onions are a great seasoning for almost any cooked dish. When they are cooked, their flavor becomes milder because the smelly sulfur compounds convert to sugar when heated. Even without butter, onions sauté wonderfully. Using a nonstick skillet and a teaspoon of olive oil can help. Keep the heat low, or the onions will scorch and turn bitter.

Raw sweet onions are perfect as rings in salads or slices on sandwiches. They can add flavor to a three-bean salad or a plate of homegrown tomatoes. Wash green onions, trim the roots and dry leaves, then chop up the bulb, stalk, and all. They work well in stir-fry dishes, adding a subtle bite. Green onions can also be served raw with low-fat dip as part of a crudite platter.

No matter whether it’s a shallot, scallion, or regular yellow onion, always keep onions on hand to jazz up any healthy salad, stir-fry, or vegetarian casserole recipe. This way, you’ll never be bored with healthy eating. In the next section, we’ll discuss the health benefits of onions. If you want to learn more about onions, you can try visiting the links provided at the end of the article.

Onions are a surprising source of fiber and healthy sulfur compounds, similar to those found in garlic. Although research on onions has lagged behind garlic research, onions appear to have similar cardiovascular benefits, such as reducing blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels, at least in the short term. Onions are also a good source of fiber, flavonoids, and vitamin C.

Onions contain flavonoids called phytochemicals that assist vitamin C to improve blood vessels’ integrity and reduce inflammation, benefiting cardiovascular health. Quercetin, a flavonoid, may prevent tumor growth and prevent colon cancer. Moreover, a newly discovered compound can prevent bone loss in menopausal women comparable to Fosamax. Chromium, a mineral found in onions, helps cells respond to insulin, regulating blood glucose. Green onions, with their vivid green tops, are rich in vitamin A.

Dry onions contain 46 calories, 11g of carbohydrates and 2g of dietary fiber per half cup chopped serving. Additionally, they contain 6mg of vitamin C and less than 1mg of vitamin B6. Fresh green onions contain 16 calories, 4g of carbohydrates, and 1g of dietary fiber per half cup chopped serving. They also contain 10mg of vitamin C, 498 IU of vitamin A, 1mg of iron, and 867 micrograms of carotenoids.

For more information about onions, you can access the links provided, including why onions make you cry, their nutritional benefits, how to grow them in your vegetable garden, and more.

This information is for educational purposes only and not intended to provide medical advice. Neither the author nor publisher takes responsibility for any consequences resulting from following the information contained herein. It is recommended to seek the advice of a healthcare provider before starting any treatment or dietary modification.

FAQ

1. What are onions?

Onions are a type of vegetable that belong to the allium family and are closely related to garlic, shallots, and chives. They are known for their distinctive flavor and are used in a variety of different dishes around the world.

2. How do you cook onions?

Onions can be cooked in a variety of different ways, including sautéing, roasting, grilling, and frying. They can be chopped, sliced, or diced depending on the recipe, and are often used as a base for soups, stews, and sauces. When cooking onions, it’s important to keep an eye on them and stir them frequently to prevent burning.

3. What are the health benefits of onions?

Onions are a good source of vitamin C, dietary fiber, and antioxidants. They have been shown to help lower cholesterol levels, reduce inflammation, and may even have anti-cancer properties. Eating onions regularly as part of a healthy diet can help improve overall health and wellbeing.

4. How do you store onions?

Onions should be stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. They can be stored in a pantry, cupboard, or even in the refrigerator. It’s important to keep onions away from other fruits and vegetables as they can cause them to spoil more quickly.

5. What are the different types of onions?

There are many different types of onions, including red onions, yellow onions, white onions, and shallots. Each type of onion has its own unique flavor and is used in different cuisines around the world. Red onions, for example, are often used in salads and raw dishes, while yellow onions are commonly used for cooking and sautéing.

6. Can onions be eaten raw?

Yes, onions can be eaten raw and are often used in salads and sandwiches for added flavor and crunch. However, some people may find that raw onions are too pungent or strong and prefer to cook them before eating.

7. Are onions easy to grow?

Onions are relatively easy to grow and can be grown in a variety of different climates. They are usually planted in the fall or early spring and take several months to mature. Onions can be grown in a garden or even in containers on a balcony or patio.

8. What are some popular dishes that use onions?

Onions are a staple ingredient in many different cuisines around the world. Some popular dishes that use onions include French onion soup, Indian curry, Italian pasta dishes, and American hamburgers. Onions can also be pickled or used to make onion rings as a tasty snack or side dish.

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