It is that time of year that I use more onions in cooking. I put them in everything for flavoring.
Most people don’t want to eat them because their breath smells afterward. Also if you cut onions, it is hard to get rid of the odor on your hands.
As the holidays approach and onions are used in so many dishes, I thought I’d give a few hints on onions —plus, they are also very nutritious.
A quote I love from Elizabeth Robbins Pennell an American columnist is, “Banish (the onion) from the kitchen and the pleasure flies with it. Its presence lends color and enchantment to the most modest dish; its absence reduces the rarest delicacy to hopeless insipidity, and dinner to despair.”
Onions are high in vitamin C, a good source of fiber, and with only 45 calories per serving, add abundant flavor to a wide variety of food. Onions are sodium, fat, and cholesterol free, and they provide a number of other key nutrients.
According to an old English rhyme, the thickness of an onion skin can help predict the severity of the winter. Thin skins mean a mild winter is coming while thick skins indicate a rough winter ahead.
To reduce tearing when cutting onions, first chill the onions for 30 minutes. Then, cut off the top and peel the outer layers leaving the root end intact. (The root end has the highest concentration of sulfuric compounds that make your eyes tear.)
High heat makes onions bitter. So when sautéing onions, always use low or medium heat.
Although “onion breath” normally comes from eating raw onions, a mild raw onion may cause no odor. Cooked onions leave virtually no odor on the breath.
When you are concerned about your breath, use these helpful tips to freshen your breath: eat a sprig or two of parsley, it’s known as nature’s natural breath sweetener; rinse your mouth with equal parts of lemon juice and water or chew a citrus peel.
I remove the smell of onions from my hands and/or cooking equipment by rubbing them with lemon juice. If your pots or pans are made of aluminum, cast iron, or carbon-steel, rub them with salt instead.
So as the winter months are coming upon us, I use more onions than my garden produced, so I have to buy them. When purchasing onions, look for dry outer skins free of spots or blemishes. The onion should be heavy for its size with no scent. Enjoy the many wonders of onions from cooking to eating raw or as an old wives tale said keep a raw onion in your room to keep viruses away.
Donna Cook is the owner of Rabbit Creek Gourmet Foods in Louisburg, Kan. She is also a Master Gardener, Master Food Volunteer and on the board of directors of the Home Baking Association.