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Can you imagine a recipe without the Onions? This wonderful bulb vegetable, one of the oldest edible sources known to humankind, is found in a bewildering array of recipes and preparations, be it your favorite salad, or mouth-watering gravy or curries. It has also been in used in traditional medicines since ancient times for its health promoting and curative properties.
Selection, Usage and Storage Information
Selection: While buying, look for fresh ones that are clean, well-shaped, have no opening at the neck and feature crispy, and dry outer skins. Good-quality white onions will be firm, free of blemishes or mold spots and have even-colored, paper-dry skin. Some feel that sweeter onions will be flat-shaped from stem to root-end, not round.
Usage: Trim the ends using a sharp knife. Then peel the outer 2-3 layers of skin until you find fresh thick pinkish-white whorls. You can slice or cut them into fine cubes depending upon the recipe type. Top greens and flower heads are also edible. Spring onions or scallions are favored in fast food preparations.
Storage: At home, store them in cool dark place away from moisture and humid conditions where they keep fresh for several days. They can also keep well in the refrigerator; however, you should use them immediately once you remove from the refrigerator since they tend to spoil if they kept at room temperature for a while.
Avoid: Avoid those that show sprouting or have signs of black mold (a kind of fungal attack) as they indicate that the stock is old. In addition, poor-quality bulbs often have soft spots, moisture at their neck, and dark patches, which may all be indications of decay.
Seasonal Information: White onions are available year-round.
Raw onions are readily available during all the seasons. Depending on the variety, they can be sharp, spicy, tangy and pungent or mild and sweet. In the store, they are available in fresh, frozen, canned, pickled, powdered, and dehydrated forms.
Raw onions can cause irritation to skin, mucus membranes and eyes. This is due to release of allyl sulphide gas while chopping or slicing them. The gas when mixed with moisture (water), convert to sulfuric acid. Allyl sulphide is concentrated more at the ends, especially at the root end. Its effect can be minimized by immersing the trimmed bulb in cold water for few minutes before you chop or slice it.