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    You are in: Home / Community Forums / Cooking Q & A / A question about buying onions
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    A question about buying onions

    Al from Rochester
    Sun Mar 03, 2013 2:52 pm
    Newbie "Fry Cook" Poster
    In these days of bland food and sugar in everything, I'm having trouble finding onions that taste like onions.

    I'm not getting "sweet onions", I'm getting what the store calls "yellow onions". Once in a while I'll get one that has plenty of Onionium in it -- it tears my eyes like crazy and actually has an onion taste. But most of the time there are no tears and no taste.

    Are there some kind of visual cues that'll guide me toward the good, flavorful onions?


    PS Please don't tell me that sweet onions are short and wide and regular onions are roundish. I don't buy sweet onions. I buy roundish ones, which are presumably regular onions.
    Sun Mar 03, 2013 3:02 pm Groupie
    Have you tried white ones? They are the ones used in most Mexican cooking, try one and see if that has what you are looking for (and I'm not sure what that is, unless it's heat you want). Also, red onions have a very strong flavor, they are often soaked in ice water or vinegar to take away some of the pungency when they are to be used raw, so they might be good candidates for you to try. Onions grown in sulfurous soil have a more pungent taste.
    pinky kookie
    Sun Mar 03, 2013 3:24 pm Groupie

    I always prefer to buy and use white onions for cooking because they have a stronger flavor and taste, but here is this info that can answer all your questions:

    Ever wondered why some recipes call for a particular kind of onion and whether another can be substituted in its place? We certainly have.

    All these onions vary slightly in flavor, texture, and color, but can usually be substituted for one another. In terms of cooking, they will all behave the same in the pan.

    When buying onions, go for ones that feel heavy in your hand and firm. Avoid soft onions or ones that have a sharp oniony odor before peeling. These are indications that the onion is old. Except for sweet onions, all these onions can be stored for several weeks in a cool, dark pantry or cupboard.

    YELLOW ONIONS - We consider this the all-purpose onion, and personally, it's the one we use most often. Yellow onions have a nice balance of astringency and sweet in their flavor, becoming sweeter the longer they cook. They are usually fist-sized with fairly a fairly tough outer skin and meaty layers. Spanish onions are a particular kind of yellow onion and we find them to be slightly sweeter and more delicate in flavor.

    WHITE ONIONS - These onions tend to have a sharper and more pungent flavor than yellow onions. They also tend to be more tender and have a thinner, more papery skin. They can be cooked just like yellow onions, but we also like them minced and added to raw salsas and chutneys.

    SWEET ONIONS - Walla Walla and Vidalia are the most common kinds of sweet onions. These onions lack the sharp, astringent taste of other onions and really do taste sweet. They are fantastic thinly sliced and served in salads or on top of sandwiches. They can range in color from white to yellow and often have a flattened or squashed appearance. Sweet onions tend to be more perishable and should be store in the refrigerator.

    RED ONIONS - With their deep purple outer skin and reddish flesh, these are really the odd-guys out in the onion family. They are fairly similar to yellow onions in flavor, though their layers are slightly less tender and meaty. Red onions are most often used in salads, salsas, and other raw preparations for their color and relatively mild flavor. The lovely red color becomes washed out during cooking. If you find their flavor to astringent for eating raw, try soaking them in water before serving.
    Sun Mar 03, 2013 5:21 pm Groupie
    I haven't come across an onion in YEARS that made my eyes tear!
    Sun Mar 03, 2013 5:49 pm Groupie
    You're lucky. They never fail to get me. One thought: are those of you who are not affected by onions storing yours in the fridge? Cutting chilled onions does help to prevent the sulfur from affecting your eyes.
    Sun Mar 03, 2013 5:57 pm Groupie
    The sharpness of onions, like garlic and other alliums, is entirely dependent on enzymatic action. To get more flavor - cut your onions and let them stand for 10 or 15 minutes. The finer you cut them, the more you will get out of them, as more intracellular material gets exposed to the mostly-extracellular enzymes. For maximum onion flavor, grate your onions and let them stand for a few minutes before cooking.
    Sun Mar 03, 2013 6:12 pm Groupie
    Zeldaz wrote:
    You're lucky. They never fail to get me. One thought: are those of you who are not affected by onions storing yours in the fridge? Cutting chilled onions does help to prevent the sulfur from affecting your eyes.

    Yes, I do store onions in the fridge ~
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