About Onions

These are onions we commonly use in Ricky’s recipes.

Top left is a red onion, sometimes also called a Bermuda onion. It’s easy to identify in the store. 🙂

Top right corner is 3 yellow onions; large, medium and small. They are oval shaped with a pointed end.

Through the middle is scallion, also called green onions. Easy to recognize, Found with fresh leafy greens.

Bottom left is a sweet onion, often marked Vadalia.

On the bottom, in the middle, is a shallot.

The onions we use most often are the yellow onions. They have a strong onion flavor that will hold it’s own in cooking. They are found in any produce department. As well as being able to buy a single onion, yellow onions are often sold in net bags weighing 2, 3 or 5 pounds.

Red onions are milder in flavor. They are good in cold salads where the onion will be eaten raw. They lose some of their flavor in a cooked dish. Also, in soups and stews, when paired with certain ingredients they can cause a bluish hue in the broth. There is no danger in eating it, it just doesn’t look all that appetizing.

We have a separate TIDBIT for Scallions to show how to cut and use them. They have a very delicate onion flavor in both the white bulb. and the green stems. The stems have a similar taste to chives, but there is more “meat” in the green onion stem. The stems, cut into 1/4 inch pieces, are a great garnish that brings a bite of mellow flavor with a fresh crunch. They are not a stand out flavor in a cooked recipe, but they do add a subtle fresh onion flavor for something that is going to cook up quickly.

The sweet onion is the white onion near the bottom on the left. They are shaped differently than most other onions. The top and bottom are almost flat and they flair out to a wide middle, kind of like a flying saucer. That makes them easy to identify, even if they are in the wrong bin. They have a mild onion flavor and can be used in cold salads as well as cooked dishes. They are also a good onion to use if you are sautéing slices of onion to use as a side dish or topping or complement to a sandwich or main course.

Shallots are also milder than yellow onions, and obviously, a lot smaller. Their layers are so thin that it makes it a lot easier to get a fine chop. It’s not an onion that Ricky or I use often. They are great when you need a really small mince for even distribution of a fresh mild onion taste, without adding much texture. An example would be devilled eggs. There’s not a lot of space for the filling in the hole of the cooked egg white and the filling mixture is smooth, so a larger chunk of any of the other onions just doesn’t work. For the same reason, shallots are a good choice for smooth sauces or gravies that could use a touch of savory onion taste, but you don’t want to change the smooth texture.

You know how to store produce at home by noticing where it is in the store. All of the onions above, except for the scallions, are found in open bins fully exposed to air. At home they should have as much air circulation as possible. Wide meshed baskets, made of metal or natural materials are perfect for storing onions. They need to be kept dry with as little light as possible.

Scallions, are found in the section of the produce department where the vegetables are being sprayed with water periodically. In that section you find fresh unpackaged green leafy vegetables and herbs. Anything found in that section needs to be kept moist. The vegetable bins in your refrigerator is where you keep things bought in that section. You can store scallions loose in a vegetable bin, or wrap some wet paper towel loosely around the white section and put them in a plastic bag, left open, so there is air circulation. If you close the bag you are inviting rot.

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