The is a vegetable plant whose bulb, with a strong flavour and smell, is widely used in cooking.
History and characteristics of the onion
Native to Central Asia, onions have been cultivated for over 5,000 years. It was highly appreciated by the Egyptians, especially raw, and in the eyes of the Greeks, it possessed great therapeutic virtues. Since the end of the Middle Ages in Europe, especially in northern and eastern countries, it has been one of the pillars of cooking and food. In Mediterranean countries, it is eaten mostly raw, of a sweet variety. In France, the is mainly grown in Eastern France, but also in Brittany and the North. As a sign of quality, the "sweet from the Cévennes" has just obtained the "Appellation d'origine contrôlée" (AOC). They are imported from the Netherlands, Italy, Spain and Egypt.
The varieties are distinguished by their colour and their production period:
- white onions are early onions harvested before they are fully ripe. They do not keep for long and are available from April to September.
- Small white onions are sold in bunches from April to July or by weight in September.
- yellow onions are available all year round, they are harvested in August and stored between -3 and 0°C, hulled and dried, for winter consumption.
- red onions, which are rarer, are sold from June to March.
Cultivate yellow, white and red onions.
White onions, red onions, yellow onions... They all bring that indispensable touch of pep to our plates. Our advice on planting times, depending on the variety and your region.
In which season to eat onions
The is eaten from September to November. It is eaten in July and August.
Calories and nutrition facts about onions
Although generally consumed in small quantities, onions have many nutritional benefits: they are rich in vitamin C, contain many minerals and trace elements (with immune and anti-oxidant properties), and are low in calories. It has been the subject of several recent studies which have highlighted various beneficial actions for health:
- Diuretic action : it helps to eliminate thanks in particular to the presence of particular carbohydrates (fructosans) in the bulb.
- Hypoglycemic action: it counteracts an excessive rise in blood levels thanks to certain sulphur constituents and a specific amine (diphenylamine).
- Bacteriostatic action: fresh, it opposes microbial proliferation, and can even play an anti-bacterial role.
- Beneficial action for the cardio-vascular system: the daily consumption of 200 g of raw onions reduces blood platelet aggregation and therefore protects against the risk of clot formation and vessel obstruction.
Nutritional value of the onion per 100 g
- Proteins 1.3 g
- Carbohydrates 7.1 g
- Fat 0.2 g
- Calories 34 kcal
How to choose the onion
Choose white onions when their leaves are still green, it's a sign of freshness. Be careful, these fresh onions do not keep for more than a week in the refrigerator.
Remove their leaves and roots and put them under water: they are ready to be eaten as an aperitif or in a salad. Those of August in the South, fresh and crunchy, are very tasty.
How to store onions
Store them in a dry place and away from light, otherwise they may sprout or mould.
How to cook and enjoy onions
Choose yellow onions according to their use: large sweet Valencia onions for stuffing; small spring onions as a garnish; strong onions (the "Straw of Virtues" variety is the most common), to make soups, pies, purées and of course simmered dishes (studded with cloves, it gives taste to a stew or broth).
Beware, dry onions are eaten cooked: raw they can be indigestible.
Finally, be aware that red onions are mostly eaten raw, as cooked they are blander than the others with a slightly sweet flavour.
To peel the onions without crying too much, do it under tap water or in a basin of water. Or do it with pool goggles: it is 100% effective and is guaranteed to be a success with children.
To chop an , cut it in half, lay the 2 halves flat and cut them into thin vertical slices, then into thin horizontal slices.