Sweet onions, such as Vidalia, Maui, and Walla Walla onions, named after the locations in which they are grown offer sweetness, crunch, and great health benefits.
Peak season for sweet onions is during the late spring and early summer months.
Look for bright and shiny skin with no noticeable dark, powdery patches underneath – an indicator of a common mold that will eventually spoil the flesh. The neck of an onion should be tightly closed and dry, avoiding those with a thick, woody centres.
Sprouting is an indication of age and poor storage. However you can still use the green sprouts as a substitute for scallions even if the flesh may be useless.
Stored properly, sweet onions should last in your pantry about ten days to two weeks. Due to a higher water and sugar content, sweet onions have a shorter shelf life than most varieties, making proper storage crucial. The ideal location will be cool, dark, and dry with the bulbs spread out for optimum air circulation. A trade secret is to place onions in a clean pair of pantyhose, with knots tied in between each onion, then hung in a cool, dry place. Just snip off below each knot when you need one.
Cut, raw onion leftovers should be tightly wrapped and refrigerated to be used within a few days.
Although sweet onions are best eaten raw, they can be chopped and frozen raw for future cooking uses, with diminishing flavour after about twelve months.
A common preparation: Peel and halve the onion and slice as thinly as possible. Add juice or vinegar, herbs, jalapeno and salt and let stand 20 minutes. Serve right away or refrigerate for up to one week.
Raw onions, particularly sweet onions and red onions, are great in salads or over a bagel with cream cheese, or to top your grilled burgers.
Cooking converts the sometimes spicy/hot all-purpose onion into sweet morsels. Cooked sweet onions are even sweeter yet, sweet enough to use in a chocolate cake.
The two predominant health benefits of onions are sulfur (a compound) and quercetin (a flavonoid), helping to neutralize the free radicals in the body, and protect the membranes of the body’s cells from damage.
One-half cup of raw onion has 30 calories; one-half cup of boiled has 45. Onions also contain generous amounts of Vitamin B6, Vitamin B1, and folic acid.
Related to garlic, leeks, shallots, scallions, and chives, onions belong to the pungent Allium genus of the lily family.
Don’t worry about bad breath or an upset tummy. Sweet onions have a lower acid content, making them easier to digest and reduces the occurrence of unpleasant stomach upsets, like reflux.
Due to structure of layers within layers that form a sphere, history records the onion as being considered a symbol of eternity and as valuable as gold in the Middle Ages.
The original sweet onion crop brought to North America was the Bermuda onion, shipped to South Texas in 1898 from the Canary Islands. Those onion seeds were planted near the city of Cotulla and became an instant success.