Market Notes: The Many-Layered Onion

Winter Farmers' Market, Rollinsford - 12/1/12Onions are ubiquitous in today’s kitchen, a staple to many recipes. But can you imagine cooking without onions? We rely on these versatile bulbs for flavor in everything from soups to dips to salads. A red onion gives an amazing zip to a simple sandwich. The sweetness of sauteed onions adds a whole new layer to soups and sauces. They are so important to cooking that Julia Child once said, “It’s hard to imagine a civilization without onions.” We heartily agree!

There are many different varieties of onion — red, yellow, white, and green — each with their own unique flavor, from very strong to mildly sweet. Yellow onions are full-flavored and are a reliable standby for cooking almost anything. Yellow onions turn a rich, dark brown when cooked and give French onion soup its tangy sweet flavor. The red onion is a good choice for fresh uses or in grilling and char-broiling. White onions are the traditional onion used in classic Mexican cuisine. They have a golden color and sweet flavor when sautéed.

Purchasing: Choose onions that are firm and dry with bright, smooth outer skins. The neck should be tightly closed and the outer skin should have a crackly feel and shiny appearance. Onions should smell mild, even if their flavor is not. Avoid selecting onions with dark patches or sprouts.

Storing: Onions absorb moisture easily, so store them in a dry, cool, dark, well-ventilated location (and if you want them to look pretty, try making your own onion braid!). In this environment, onions have a shelf life of four weeks or more.

Preparing: Lose the tears. You can help avoid eye irritation while cutting onions by chilling the onion prior to using it (but remember, refrigerate, don’t freeze!). You can also try cutting the root of the onion last, as the root has a higher concentration of eye-irritating enzymes. Using a sharp blade to chop onions will also help (and you can get your knives sharpened by On the Edge Knife Sharpening at Saturday’s market!). For more onion cutting ideas >

Cooking: Three Onion Chowder, French Onion Soup (of course!), Flatbread with Goat Cheese and Caramelized Onions, or any of these onion recipes.

FindingBrookford Farm, Burnt Swamp Farm, Coppal House Farm, Heron Pond Farm, Hollister Family Farm, Meadow’s Mirth Farm, Red Manse Farm, Riverside Farm, Wake Robin Farm, and Wild Miller Gardens will all be bringing our featured vegetable, the onion, to our December 22nd Winter Farmers’ Market in Rollinsford!

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