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They may bring us to tears, but they’re an essential ingredient for all cuisines
No other vegetable is as versatile as the onion. Whether in a stew, baked, used as the base for sauces or caramelised to perfection, onions are always a great addition.
A savoury ‘Zwiebelkuchen’ (onion cake), a delicious onion soup, or stuffed with tasty ingredients: onions are extremely versatile and play a leading role in all cuisines. On the other hand, onions also play a supporting role in a number of meals and can often round a dish off nicely and make for an excellent finishing touch. A large number of recipes begin with sweating or sautéing diced onions such as Bolognese, vegetable soup or mushroom dishes. Even in cases where the onion plays a minor role, it still adds a distinct flavour. Discover the versatility of onions!
|Calories||39 kcal per 100g|
|Nutrients||7g carbohydrate, 1.8g fibre, 0.2g fat, 1.3g protein per 100g|
|Storage||store in a cool, dark, dry and aired place|
|Shelf life||a few weeks or months|
Onions have a long shelf life and are therefore available all year round. While fresh onions are mostly sold between April and October, for the rest of the year onions found in supermarkets are usually from storage. Despite their long shelf life, there are a few things to watch out for when shopping for onions: they should be firm and tight to touch and their skin should not have any holes or markings. Black specks or soft spots usually indicate a rotten onion and should be avoided.
Onions have been a large part of the human diet for more than 6,000 years. Even today, they are a staple ingredient in almost all cuisines and can be found in every kitchen. An important thing to note however, is that not all onions are the same. Below are the most common varieties:
· Yellow onions: The classic variety, with a brown skin and a pungent flavour, is well suited to many dishes.
· White onions: The large, mild onions don’t have such an intense taste when eaten raw and are ideal for stuffed onion dishes.
· Red onions: This variety has a mild and lightly sweet taste and is ideal for salads.
· Shallots: Small, oval shallots are wonderful in sauces or whole in casseroles.
· Spring onions: The green leafy part of a spring onion is mostly eaten raw.
Most shy away from chopping onions. This is not only down to their tendency to bring tears to the eyes, but also because it can be quite a tedious process – especially dicing onions into small cubes. However, with the correct cutting technique, chopping onions will become a piece of cake. Simply peel and halve the onion, lay each half on its side on a chopping board and have a sharp knife at the ready. Next, cut vertical, narrow slices into the onion but without cutting the root end so that the onion is still held together by the root. And finally, slice horizontally – parallel to the base – to produce fine cubes.
No matter which way you are preparing onions, you should always be careful not to burn or blacken them – this can result in a bitter and unpleasant taste. Be especially careful when roasting them. When sweating onions, it is best to do so on a medium heat with a knob of butter or a dash of balsamic vinegar; this not only prevents the onions from burning, but also lends them a wonderfully unique taste. In order to caramelise onions, simply add a bit of sugar or honey.
Some more ideas: onions can be added to a vegetable soup, shallots can be added whole to braised vegetables, and large onions are great for stuffing with minced meat. For a delicate onion flavour in, for example, salad dressings, press a piece of onion through a garlic press.
Tip: If your hands smell strongly of onion, simply wash them with some lemon juice or vinegar mixed with water.
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