Where would we be without onions? For that matter, where would our family cookbooks be without onions as a key ingredient for homemade appetizers, entrees and side dishes? Stuffed onions, creamed onions, onion soup, onion rings. About the only recipes I can think of where onions have not been embraced are dessert recipes (and I’m sure there probably are sweet onion desserts out there somewhere).
Historians say onions were first used in China, India and Egypt, and many of these cultures used onions as medicinal ingredients. One doesn’t hear much about onion tea, but I found an onion tea recipe in an old cookbook using herbs and such as a remedy for colds and coughing. (The onion tea recipe suggested sugar and lemon, but I think a little chicken broth would be more palatable.)
Aside from the obvious attributes of onions (crunchy, strong-flavored, versatile), they are a fairly good source of Vitamin C (so maybe that’s the secret for their curing properties?).
Some onions are stronger smelling than others, and most cooks have encountered stinging eyes more than once while chopping or slicing the little darlings. Here are some ideas I’ve used for avoiding the crying reflex when handling onions:
- Chill the onion
- Put on your glasses/sunglasses and wrap damp paper towels around the edges
- Hold your breath
- Chop/slice fast with a very sharp knife
- Stand away from the onion while cutting so the fumes don’t rise into your face
If you want to learn more about onions check out The Cooks Thesaurus
or watch an excellent video from ExpertVillage.com
Okay, time for a breath mint.