Our Favorite Onion Recipes for Soup Season

Soup season is here, and we are here for it! There is nothing quite like soup to warm your soul and fill your stomach on a chilly day. Soup has been part of mankind’s diet for centuries. In fact, historians believe that the first bowl of soup was cooked up sometime around 20,000 BC using clay pots or bowls made of mud. 

Soup recipes have come a long way from those simple broths. The modern foodie can enjoy soups from every culture and region of the world, each with unique ingredients, spices, and aromas. We’re here to highlight our favorite soup component and offer a few pro-tips for making perfect soups this season. You guessed it: We’re talking about onions. 

Transform Your Soups with Onions

Onions make an excellent soup ingredient because they are so versatile. Depending on their preparation, they can offer distinctive flavor profiles and take a soup from good to great. Onions offer a complex umami – or savory – taste that can boost up meat-based stocks like chicken or beef or contribute needed depth to a vegetable stock. 

Using onions in soup is also an easy way to add moisture to the mixture without adding additional liquids like water that could dilute flavors and spices. 

Let’s not forget the health benefits of using onions in your recipes, too. Onions are jam-packed with essential nutrients like fiber, vitamin C, folic acid, antioxidants, and potassium. Regularly including onions in your diet has been proven to improve heart health, better control blood sugar, and even increase bone density. All that to say, an apple a day may be good, but an onion a day may be better. No offense to the apples. 

As an added bonus, onions are inexpensive and long-lasting — especially if you are using a Gills Onion. Our value-added onions have the longest shelf life in the industry, staying fresh and ready to use for at least 18 days. And, from soil to seed to storage, our onions are carefully cultivated to deliver the best taste and virtually no odor. 

Prepping Your Onions for Flavorful Soups

Onions are part of the triad of vegetables that make Mirepoix: onions, carrots, and celery. Mirepoix is the base for thousands of delicious recipes including many soups. And, even on its own, onion is a common soup component around the world. You can use onion in your own soup-making in a variety of ways: 

  • Sauté. Cook onions and a small amount of your favorite cooking oil over high heat. The goal is to cook, stirring occasionally, until your onions are golden brown. This is a great first step to making a roux or soup base. 
  • Sweat. Sweating an onion is similar to sauteing, except you’ll cook the onion by itself over low heat until the onions become soft and clear. You don’t want to brown them, just soften the texture and release those sweet flavors. 
  • Caramelize. The caramelization process is slow and sensitive, but it produces the deepest, sweetest onion flavor. You’ll sweat your onions over medium-low heat and add a little bit of water anytime they start to brown quickly or look dry. Adding the water keeps the natural sugars in the onion from burning. Once browning begins, turn your heat to low and keep stirring every few minutes. The longer your onions cook, the sweeter they will be. 
  • Fresh cut. Fresh cut onions are great as a topper on soups and chilis. They bring a stronger, sharper flavor than the sweet flavors of sauteed, sweated, or caramelized onions, but they lift recipes with their clean taste and crisp texture. 

Get Started with These Recipes

Ready to elevate your soup season with onions? You can’t go wrong with some of our favorite recipes. 

And, if you have your own favorites to share, tag us on social media @gillsonions, and check out our other onion-loving social content at the links below:





Ready to try onions the Gills Way? For more information, contact our sales department.

Join the Double Your Impact Challenge

In the month of May, Gills Onions will match all donations up to $12,500 for every dollar donated to Students for Eco-Education and Agriculture (SEEAG) as part of SEEAG’s third annual Double Your Impact Challenge.

“The generosity of our friends at Gill’s Onions means SEEAG will receive as much as $25,000 to support our Farm Lab program,” says Mary Maranville, SEEAG’s founder and CEO.  “Farm Lab is a combination of classroom learning and farm field trips where students learn all about the origins of their food, particularly locally-grown food. The money raised will enable us to reach more students across Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.”

A Mission to Teach and Share

Gills Onions is a long-time supporter of SEEAG’s agricultural education programming that has reached over 60,000 elementary school students since its founding in 2008. All SEEAG programs are 100 percent cost-free to schools and students.

“Teaching students about how food is grown and the benefits of eating locally-produced fruits and vegetables is one way to improve the health of our kids,” says Steve Gill, Gill’s Onions president and SEEAG board member. “Once kids learn about the farming and harvesting process and the benefits of fresh produce, they get excited about eating a more healthy diet.”

How You Can Help

All “Gill’s Onions Double Your Impact Challenge” matching donations go toward student learning:

Double Giving Levels:

  • $25 donation doubles to $50 – Print summer camp booklets for 100 students
  • $50 donation doubles to $100 – Pack farm-fresh resource bags for 200 students
  • $100 donation doubles to $200 – Send 200 students home with vegetable seedlings
  • $250 donation doubles to $500 – Fill up the SEEAG van for two weeks of summer camp travel
  • $500 donation doubles to $1,000 – Provide fresh snacks and materials for 800 students
  • $1,000 donation doubles to $2,000 – Covers the cost of six buses to bring students to Farm Lab

 For more information or to donate, visit www.seeag.org/doubleyourimpact.

Ready to try onions grown “The Gills Way”? Contact our sales department to learn more. 

2021 PMA Foodservice

It’s 2021, and PMA Foodservice is back! Our team at Gills Onions was excited to be attending our first major industry event for foodservice since the COVID-19 pandemic. Our industry has seen unprecedented changes and faced many unforeseen challenges over the past year, but we are ready to join with our partners … because foodservice is back in business. 

There’s no better way to celebrate how far we’ve come than PMA Foodservice. 

What You Need to Know About PMA Foodservice

PMA Foodservice Conference & Expo took place July 21–22, 2021, in Monterey, California. That year, PMA is celebrating the resilience of the industry and reconnecting buyers and sellers at its 40th anniversary event. 

At PMA Foodservice, you’ll find attendees from every corner of our industry, including operators, distributors, and retail foodservice buyers; grower-shippers and processors (like Gills Onions); and even business solutions providers. It gives everyone a chance to connect, learn about innovations, and of course, do business. 

At Gills Onions, we were excited to be back at PMA Foodservice doing what we do best: sharing the good news of fresh fruits and vegetables. We love the chance to show why we are the best at what we do and how we lead in sustainability, food safety, value-add, and flavor. We believe in doing business the old-fashioned way – with a handshake and a face-to-face conversation, building relationships that last. 

We’re Proud to Stand With Our Partners

We’re proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with our partners in foodservice as we enter the post-pandemic world. It’s no secret that 2020 was difficult, and Gills Onions wasn’t immune. Restaurants closed and reopened and closed again. New mandates and restrictions forced us to get creative and adapt how we do business. Businesses across our industry had to make difficult decisions to reduce staff, and at times, it seemed like things would never return to “normal.” 

In 2021, some things are starting to look a bit more familiar. But, with a national labor shortage, reducing costs and labor in the kitchen is more important than ever. At Gills Onions, we are proud to offer a value-added product that saves kitchens time and money on labor and transportation costs. And, onions are one of the most commonly used products across foodservice. (It makes sense. They’re delicious and versatile.) 

We also took the time in 2020 to prepare our business for the next 40 years of service. We upgraded our technology to incorporate state of the art equipment that allows us to deliver products more quickly and more safely than ever before. 

PMA Foodservice is the perfect time to stand together and share an optimistic vision of the future. We all survived, and now it is time to thrive. 

Ready to try onions the Gills Way? For more information, contact our sales department.

Chinese New Year: A Time to Celebrate Agriculture

The start of a new year is a time celebrated by countries and communities around the world as a time of renewal and reflection, but did you know that the new year also has many ties to agriculture? The Lunar New Year, often referred to as “Chinese New Year,” is the perfect example. (And onions even have a part in the celebration!)

The History of the Lunar New Year

In China, the Lunar New Year is one of the most important holidays of the year. China’s agrarian culture has thrived through the centuries, and the start of a new year was a time for farmers to rest from their work and celebrate.

The New Year marked the end of winter and the beginning of spring, the time that Chinese farmers considered the start of a new calendar cycle. They cleaned their fields and homes and prepared to plant new seeds. Friends and family traveled to be together and celebrate the start of a new year of prosperity and growth, both metaphorical and physical as new crops were planted. 

Lunar New Year celebrations begin on the new moon that occurs between the end of January and the end of February and last 15 days. On the seventh day of celebration, farmers traditionally displayed their produce. Historically, the new moon was a marker for when farmers should begin to plant crops. Plant too early and crops may fall victim to a late frost. Plant too soon and crops could miss out on essential spring rains. Hence, the “Lunar” New Year. While western calendars are based on the Earth’s orbit around the sun, the Chinese New Year is based on the moon’s orbit around the Earth.

The Year of the … What?

Another tie to agriculture is the Chinese zodiac. Each new year is marked by one of 12 zodiac animals and is said to carry the characteristics of that animal:

  • Rat – adaptable, stable, hardworking
  • Ox – diligent, strong, determined, dependable
  • Tiger – powerful, bold, wild
  • Rabbit – tender, patient, polite
  • Dragon – lucky, adventurous, brave
  • Snake – warm-hearted, passionate, perceptive
  • Horse – active, energetic, independent
  • Sheep – mild, considerate, thrifty
  • Monkey – intelligent, innovative, sociable
  • Rooster – hardworking, courageous, resourceful, observant, talented
  • Dog – kind, loyal, cautious, honest
  • Pig – generous, compassionate, diligent

The animals repeat in 12-year cycles. The year 2021 is the year of the Ox, a fitting tribute to the resilience and determination of farmers around the world during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

New Year, New Food

Food is one of the most important components of Chinese New Year traditions and celebrations. Popular foods include sweet sticky rice cakes, noodles, dumplings, peanuts, and fish. 

While many traditional recipes include scallions over white or yellow onions, onions like those we grow at Gills Onions do make an appearance. And, many recipes can be adapted and spiced up with a dash of fresh onion. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Ginger-Onion Whole Steamed Fish – While this recipe focuses on green onions, finely chopped white or yellow onions stuffed into the fish or incorporated into the sauce add a nice depth of flavor. 
  • Long Chinese New Year Noodles – This take on the many noodle dishes served during Chinese New Year celebrations highlights fresh vegetables like mushrooms, bok choy, and bamboo shoots. Add in some onion and your other favorite vegetables, too. 
  • Szechuan Hot Pot – Every region of China has their own take on a hot pot meal. Adapt your hot pot to match favorite ingredients, like onion, from your home. 
  • Fortune Pockets – These dumplings combine meat, vegetables, and spices, and they can be steamed or deep fried. Add onions to your fillings and prepare with family and friends. Wrapping the pockets together is the perfect way to celebrate a new year. 

Don’t Forget About Farmers

Agriculture is one of the most essential industries in the world. Without the food that farmers grow, we wouldn’t have much to celebrate. However you choose to ring in the New Year, we encourage you to remember and support the hardworking farmers that make your meals possible. Cooking with onions is a great way to start. 

Ready to try onions the Gills Way? For more information, contact our sales department. 

Black History Month: 7 Black Innovators in Agricultural Industry

Each February, we have the opportunity to reflect on and celebrate the contributions of Black Americans. Those of us in the agricultural industry have plenty of African American inventors and farmers to thank for the advancements that make our jobs possible. At Gills Onions, we are proud to have a diverse workforce that strives to serve our communities and, of course, provide them with the world’s best onions. 

Here are seven Black farmers and inventors that you should know about and remember the next time you fill your plate. 

1. Henry Blair

Henry Blair was the second African American in history to be issued a United States patent. Born in Maryland in 1807 as a free man, Blair was a successful farmer, but he saw a need for more efficiency and smarter labor. 

His first invention was patented in 1834 as a “Seed-Planter” designed specifically to make the process of planting corn faster and simpler. A compartment stored and dropped seeds into the ground while attached rakes followed along behind to cover the seeds with soil. Two years later he received his second patent for a “Cotton-Planter” that was pulled by two horses as it dropped cotton seeds into freshly plowed soil. 

These inventions revolutionized the task of planting each individual seed by hand and made it easier for farmers to plant more in less time. Today, we see Blair’s influence in the mechanized farming machinery we use to plant and harvest onions on thousands of acres each year.

2. George Washington Carver

George Washington Carver is one of the most notable agricultural scientists and inventors of the modern American era. Realizing that soil in many southern states had been stripped of essential nutrients like nitrogen from repetitive cotton planting processes, he developed a new method for crop rotation. By alternating cotton crops with other produce like peanuts and corn, nitrogen was reintroduced to the soil and increased its productivity.

Carver also promoted practices that seem commonplace today like composting soil with organic matter. His work benefitted scores of sharecroppers across the United States, and his ideas for focusing on renewable resources and sustainable agricultural practices have never been more relevant than they are today. They’ve informed the Gills Onions Zero Waste Initiative and our creation of “Onion Power.” 

3. Frederick McKinley Jones

Frederick McKinley Jones was one of our nation’s most prolific inventors and entrepreneurs. He won the National Medal of Technology and holds a place in the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Over his lifetime, he took out more than 60 patents, but we are especially grateful for his contributions in the world of refrigeration. 

Jones patented a cooling system in 1940 that mounted to the roof of trucks to keep foods cold during extended transportation. Later, it was also used on boats, planes, and railroad cars. During World War II, his invention helped to preserve blood, medicine, and food for transportation between battlefield camps and hospitals. Today, we’re able to ship our onions across the country and keep them fresh longer than any other onion in the market thanks, in part, to the modern version of Jones’ refrigerated trucks.

4. Booker T. Whatley

Booker T. Whatley is a unique but important addition to our list. As a horticulturist and professor at Tuskegee University, Whatley wrote and published the book How to Make $100,000 Farming 25 Acres in 1987. His book became popular with small farmers and large producers alike. 

Whatley’s book offers smart and sustainable ways that farmers can minimize cost and waste while maximizing income and farm space. He also introduced the idea of community supported agriculture where local consumers could pay to receive or pick their own fresh produce directly from local farms, saving both labor and time for farmers. 

These ideas have spurred the movement to know your farmer and appreciate what is on your plate, both causes that are near and dear to our hearts. 

5. Booker T. Washington

Booker T. Washington is a well-known figure in Black History. His work to promote Black education and equal opportunity paved the way for generations of Black scientists, inventors, and entrepreneurs. His involvement with The Second Morrill Act of 1890 forbade racial discrimination in college admissions for schools that received federal funding, which opened the door for many Black people to study agriculture at the university level. 

Education is essential for agriculture. As we learn and study, we can better understand how to keep our soil healthy and productive for the future. 

6. John W. Mitchell

John W. Mitchell was a Black educator and extension agent who worked tirelessly to improve the livelihoods of African American farmers in North Carolina. He famously commuted by bicycle or horse between three counties to organize farmers under the Eastern Columbus Credit Union. This allowed farmers to buy supplies together in bulk and cut costs, a method that set an example for other states and farmers to follow. 

During his lifetime, Mitchell also helped build one of the largest Black 4-H Clubs in the early 20th century. After World War II, membership in these 4-H Clubs soared, and Mitchell helped organize camps and competitions for Black youth to hone and demonstrate their agricultural skills. We’re grateful for his emphasis on education and his dedication to encouraging youth in agriculture

7. John W. Boyd Jr. 

John W. Boyd Jr. is an outspoken defender of civil rights and equal opportunity, especially in the world of agriculture. As a fourth generation farmer, Boyd encountered discriminatory practices at USDA. In response, he founded the National Black Farmers Association (NBFA) in 1995. He has worked with national government leaders, international organizations, and NBFA members across the country to break down barriers and empower Black farmers. Today, the NBFA supports tens of thousands of members. 

We’re proud to promote organizations like the NBFA that fight discrimintation and support farms of all sizes across our nation. Join us by learning more about today’s Black farmers.

Onions and Christmas: A Recipe for Happiness

Ahh, Christmastime. A magical time of year that brings people together with familiar carols, festive decorations, and delicious holiday treats. The tree is lit, the fire is crackling, snow is falling, and best of all, the aroma of onions cooking in the kitchen wafts through the house as special Christmas meals are prepared. 

This season brings with it warm feelings of comfort and joy, and food is a huge part of the picture. But why is cooking such an important part of this holiday season? What makes food, especially onions, so special this time of year?

What Makes Onions So Special During Christmas

At Gills, we always feel happy when we eat onions, but scientifically speaking, onions make us feel good because that is what they are programmed to do. When you’re hungry, eating triggers a dopamine response, letting your brain know your body is safe and fed. This “happy chemical” makes us feel at calm and at ease. 

Plus, eating carbohydrates—a key component of so many holiday meals—causes a spike in blood sugar, temporarily making you feel more alert and full of energy as your body regulates insulin. Onions contain carbs, but are also commonly paired with other foods high in carbohydrates around this time of year. (Think puff pastries, potato casseroles, cheese balls, etc.)

Onions are also packed with vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants, which fuel your body, boost immunity, aid in digestion, and make you feel good all around. This is a great reason to add onions to as many dishes as you can.

All of these physiological reactions, combined with the comforts of tradition and family, create the perfect formula for warm fuzzies during Christmastime. Put simply: the holidays + onions = happiness. It’s science!

Tips for Making the Most of This Christmas

Aside from all the scientific reasons to eat onions this season, cooking holiday meals is simply a great way to build relationships and bring a happy holiday spirit into your home. 

Of course, your Christmas may look a little different this year in the wake of everything that’s been going on. Maybe you won’t be doing your usual traveling due to the pandemic, or maybe the stresses of 2020 have put a strain on family relationships. Whatever the circumstances, preparing special recipes can still lift your spirits and make this season feel special. 
Here are some more ideas for how to make the most of this Christmas season, while experiencing the joy of holiday cooking:

  • Experiment with a new recipe. Broaden your horizons and try something new. We highly recommend making a dish with caramelized onions. They can be added to both savory and sweet recipes to improve flavor and add nutrients.
  • Give a homemade meal to someone in need. While you’re experimenting with new recipes, share a meal with someone who could really use it. Drop off food to a new parent or a family dealing with illness, or find a local charity that delivers meals to the less fortunate. 
  • Teach someone how to cook. If you’ve mastered a recipe or specific skill, use this season as a chance to bond with a loved one over a cooking lesson. Not only will you feel happy for helping them learn a new skill, but it will also be something that will stick with them for years to come.

However you celebrate this year, cooking holiday meals, especially with onions, can make your season brighter.

Ready to try onions the Gills Way? For more information, contact our sales department

How Onions Play an Important Role in Hanukkah

Hanukkah celebrations are just around the corner (beginning December 10, 2020), which means it’s time to prepare some delicious, traditional holiday dishes. 

At Gills Onions, we believe that every great meal starts with onions—especially celebratory meals. Let’s take a look at two traditional Jewish dishes that include onions to kick off the Hanukkah season. 

The Origin of Latkes

Latkes are a traditional Jewish dish commonly served during Hanukkah. You’ve probably heard of the latke, or potato pancake, but do you know about its rich history? 

Italian Jews originated the latke as early as the 14th century by deep-frying ricotta cheese. The use of dairy was an homage to the story of Judith, who ensured the military victory of her town by incapacitating an enemy general with salty cheese and wine. 

Over time, as the Jewish people continued to be moved around Europe, the latke evolved. In the 1800s, potatoes and onions became widely planted in Eastern Europe, making them an affordable vegetable to incorporate into Jewish recipes. This widespread availability led to the adaptation and popularity of the potato latke, or potato pancake, that we know and love today. 

Some also commemorate Hanukkah with latkes because of the oil used to fry them. Although latkes were originally fried in schmaltz (chicken or goose fat), many like to think of the more commonly used cooking oil as a symbol of the miracle of Hanukkah.

This recipe for no-fuss latkes calls for shredded onions and russet potatoes mixed with eggs, flour, baking powder, and salt and pepper. Once everything is combined and fried in oil, the result is a delicious and crispy hors d’oeuvre. Simply top with sour cream and applesauce, and enjoy.

You can also prepare latkes by adding potatoes and Gills Diced Onions to a food processor, rather than grating by hand. Just be sure to strain excess moisture with a cloth before adding your other ingredients.

How Brisket became a Celebratory Dish

Brisket is another traditional Jewish dish served during holidays like Hanukkah and Passover. This particular cut of beef grew in popularity among Ashkenazi Jews in the 18th century due to Kosher food rules and low cost.

Brisket is a tough cut of meat, so it must be cooked at a lower temperature for a longer period of time. Because it takes so long to prepare, it became a special meal reserved for Shabbat and special occasions.

traditional Jewish brisket is often seared, then baked in an oven with tomato sauce, over a bed of fresh cut onions and other vegetables. 

Gills Sliced Onions are perfect for preparing Hanukkah brisket because they arrive fresh, peeled, and ready to throw in the pan. Our onions save time and are guaranteed to be a tasty part of your celebration.

Whatever dishes you make to celebrate Hanukkah, onions have a history of making this holiday special­—and delicious.

Ready to try onions the Gills Way? For more information, contact our sales department. 

Why Onions are an Essential Part of the Holidays

The holiday season is officially upon us, which means it’s time to get cooking! At Gills Onions, we’re excited to make some of our tried-and-true recipes and branch out with some new ones as well. Whether you like to go all out for holiday meals or keep it simple, onions are a staple this time of year. 

Onions are also an extremely nutrient-dense food, full of vitamin C, B vitamins, and potassium, making them a healthy addition to all your holiday dishes.

Let’s take a look at some onion-inspired recipes for the holiday season.

What’s Turkey Day Without Onions?

Thanksgiving dinner is arguably America’s biggest meal of the year, and onions can be found at the heart of it. From appetizers to main courses, almost every recipe is improved by cooking with onions.

Take stuffing for example; a good Traditional Thanksgiving Stuffing wouldn’t be complete without onions. This recipe contains Gills Fresh Diced Celery & Onions and only takes about an hour start to finish. Our diced onions and celery come conveniently packaged together, can be found at most local grocery stores and make an excellent addition to any holiday meal. 

If you prefer corn bread, try our Sweet Corn Bread Stuffing for a delicious, savory, crumbly pan of goodness. 

Green bean casserole is another recipe that demands onions. Many variations include packaged fried onions, but we prefer breading and baking fresh onions, like in this Food Network recipe.

And don’t forget about the star of the show: the turkey. Gills Onions are a perfect addition to any Thanksgiving turkey, whether you use them to stuff the bird’s cavity, or roast them with your turkey in the pan. Onions add essential flavor to the turkey and help retain moisture. 

When the festivities are over, don’t forget to try our Gills Onions Leftover Turkey Soup. Save some turkey bones to make your own stock, then add delicious leftover turkey, rice and veggies, and enjoy with your other leftovers.  

Baking with Onions

After Thanksgiving, onions continue to shine in traditional recipes for Christmas and New Year’s. But what about dessert? It might sound crazy, but onions can actually be an amazing ingredient in sweets, baked goods, and savory desserts.

For example, this chocolate cake recipe from The National Onion Association uses caramelized onions as a secret weapon. The onions add vitamins and moisture and provide a delicious nutty flavor to complement the chocolate. With this chocolate cake, picky eaters will never know they’re eating vegetables with their dessert, and you can feel a little relief from the onslaught of holiday sweets.

If you’re not ready to mix onions with confections, there are a myriad of savory desserts you can make this holiday season as well. Why not give Santa a break from all the cookies this year and set out some sweet onion scones or a savory pumpkin-onion cheesecake. The possibilities are endless, and with Gills Onions, they’re sure to be delicious.

Whatever recipes you decide to make this holiday season, have fun with onions, experiment, and get the whole family involved for an unforgettable holiday.

Ready to try onions the Gills Way? For more information, contact our sales department. 

Why Onions Are an Important Part of the Day of the Dead

Dia de Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a traditional Mexican holiday honoring deceased relatives and ancestors. You probably recognize this holiday from popular Sugar Skull makeup, or the 2017 film Coco, but its history dates back centuries to the original month of celebrations in Aztec culture. 

Throughout all iterations of Dia de Muertos, food remains a staple—both for the families celebrating and for the dead. 

Keeping the Memory of Loved Ones Alive

The focus of Dia de Muertos is to remember, celebrate, and honor those who have passed away. To show respect for the deceased, family members create altars or ofrendas, and offer up items of significance to their relatives. These gifts include things like toys, clothing, flowers, and—most importantly—food.  

Food is a human experience shared by all, and connects us in profound ways. What better way to pay tribute to those who have passed, than by making their favorite meals? 

How Onions Play a Role in Dia de Muertos

At Gills Onions, we know the crucial role onions play in preparing food, especially when preparing meals for deceased loved ones. 

Onions have been a central component of Mexican cuisine for centuries. They bring life and flavor to a variety of Mexican dishes—from sopas, pico de gallo, and chilaquiles in the south, to grilled onions and burritos in the north. 

Because of the onion’s rich heritage in Mexico, many dishes prepared for deceased ancestors during Dia de Muertos contain onions in some way, shape or form. Thus, onions are an essential part of the celebration. 

Dia de Muertos Traditional Dishes

To celebrate Dia de Muertos in your own home, prepare food that reminds you of your loved ones, or try out these traditional Mexican dishes.

Pan de Muerto
Pan de Muerto (or “Bread of the Dead”) is a sweet bread with a bone-shaped design, found in many Mexican regions during the month of October. Make your own with this Pan de Muerto recipe, which includes both butter and margarine, orange zest, and orange blossom essence. 

Fiambre is a Guatemalan salad prepared on Day of the Dead. This dish is different depending on the family celebrating, but often includes cold meats, pickled onions and other pickled vegetables, boiled eggs, cheese, and lettuce. Create your own Fiambre and have fun mixing and matching ingredients.

Tamales are a traditional dish that traces back to ancient Aztec and Mayan civilizations. This masa-based dish is served year-round in Mexico, but is especially commemorative of Dia de Muertos. This tamales recipe calls for lard, corn husks, and chile pods, and involves boiling meats, garlic, and onions for two hours in preparation—so be sure to plan ahead before taking on traditional tamales. 

However you celebrate Dia de Muertos, remember to be respectful and to honor those who have passed. 

Ready to try onions the Gills Way? For more information, contact our sales department. 

We’re Carving More Than Just Pumpkins This Halloween

From online school to virtual grocery shopping, 2020 has been an unconventional year to say the least. As Halloween approaches, many pumpkin patches may be closed or have new restrictions due to COVID-19. Why not celebrate with a new, unconventional family tradition? 

Carving pumpkins is fine, but have you ever carved an onion? Or a pineapple? This year, instead of digging your hands into the usual orange slop, create a festive schmorgesborg of produce that you can put on display and turn into dinner later.

We’ve looked into the history of fruit and vegetable carving and found some awesome traditions to make our own this spooky season.

The Original Carved Turnip

One of the earliest origins of pumpkin carving stems from an old Irish tradition of carving turnips. Legend has it that a man named Stingy Jack (or Jack O’Lantern) made a deal with the devil and was cursed to roam the earth forever, using a hollowed out turnip and a burning coal to light his way. In homage to Jack O’Lantern, people began carving their own turnips and placing lights inside.

When Irish immigrants discovered the popularity of pumpkins in the United States and saw how easy they were to carve, the tradition evolved into what we now know as carving Jack-o-Lanterns. 

Summon Stingy Jack by carving a turnip, rather than a pumpkin this Halloween, by following these simple steps:

  • Select a turnip with a large enough surface area for a face, and draw a rough outline of your design.
  • Cut off the top of the turnip and set it aside—this will act as your lid later.
  • Score the inside of the turnip with a sharp knife, breaking up the root.
  • Scoop out the insides with a carving hook, melon baller, or spoon, leaving a ¼-inch thick border.
  • Use a precision craft knife to cut out the outline of your design.
  • Place an LED light or tea candle inside, top with lid, and watch your turnip come to life.

At Gills Onions, we love finding new and exciting uses for fresh produce—especially onions. Use this carving method to carve an onion (or other produce like radishes, beets, pineapples, or oranges) and share your spooky creations with us on InstagramTwitter, or Facebook

Fruit Carving Fit for a King

Another rich tradition of fruit and vegetable carving comes from Thailand. Thai fruit carving is an ancient skill that was once reserved for royalty, but has since been adopted by food artists around the world. This method focuses on carving fresh produce like cantaloupe, watermelon, papaya, cucumber, and carrots from the outer skin, in order to create a pattern on the food itself.

You may not be able to carve an intricate design fit for a king or queen into your produce, but you can definitely create some Halloween-themed art that will wow your friends on social media. Here are some ideas for how to get started:

  1. Select your fruits/vegetables. To avoid excess waste, try to pick foods you’ll want to eat later on. 
  2. Start by removing the outer rind by shaving your produce with a clay loop ribbon tool or vegetable peeler. (Pottery sculpting tools work great for carving produce and can be found easily online).
  3. Continue gradually shaving away at the surface until you’ve created your desired look. 

This method takes a lot of practice, so don’t get discouraged if your first attempt looks messy. 

There are so many great options for carving unconventional fruits and veggies this Halloween season (of course, we’re partial to onions), but however you decide to celebrate, be sure to have fun and stay safe.

Ready to try onions the Gills Way? For more information, contact our sales department

Three Cheers for Onions! Join Gills Onions to Celebrate National Onion Month

June is National Onion Month! It’s time to celebrate all things onions and all the wonderful ways these versatile vegetables make life healthy and delicious. 

At Gills Onions, we couldn’t be prouder to be part of bringing this amazing product to your kitchens. That’s why we’re marking this month by sharing some of our favorite onion facts. We hope they help you appreciate onions as much as we do. 

Centuries of Amazing Onions

Before farming was invented, humans were eating onions. And, once the earliest humans began cultivating crops more than 5,000 years ago, onions were one of the first to be domesticated.

Onions were the perfect crop for early civilizations. Their hardy nature makes them less perishable than other fruits and vegetables. They are also easy to grow, easy to transport, and can be stored or dried to be used in times of scarcity. 

Ancient civilizations used onions not only for food but also for medicine, art, and worship. In Medieval times, onions were sometimes used as currency, rent payments, and even wedding gifts. 

When the first pilgrims arrived in America on the Mayflower, they brought onions, but surprise! Native Americans were already using wild onions for cooking and healing, as a source of dye, and even as toys.  

Americans Can’t Get Enough Onions

Today, onions are the third largest fresh vegetable industry in the United States, with over 125,000 acres of onions planted across the country. The average American eats 20 pounds of onions per year, which means our nation collectively eats over 450 semi-truck loads of onions each day

The onion is used in 93 percent of American dining establishments. It is one of the top menu items for appetizers with popular dishes like onion rings, onion blooms, and French onion soup. 

Hot tip: If you’ve really enjoyed your onions for the evening and are afraid of fragrant breath, freshen up by eating a bit of fresh parsley. 

Onions Are Great for Your Health

They don’t call onions nature’s ninja for nothing. Onions offer countless health benefits to everyone who eats them. 

In fact, the saying an apple a day keeps the doctor away could also be said of onions. Like apples, onions contain quercetin, a powerful antioxidant that helps delay oxidative damage to cells and tissue. And recent studies at Wageningen Agricultural University, the Netherlands, demonstrate that the body absorbs three times more quercetin from onions than from apples. 

Onions are low in sodium and are fat-free. They are also high in essential nutrients including:

  • Vitamin C
  • Dietary fiber
  • Folic acid
  • Calcium
  • Iron

New research shows that onions may reduce the risk of certain diseases including cancer, gastric ulcers, heart disease, cataracts, and osteoporosis. Their natural ability to reduce inflammation also makes them helpful in treating respiratory illness

Celebrate by Eating an Onion

So, this month when you’re shopping or grabbing take out from your favorite restaurant, reach for the onions. As for Gills Onions, we’ll continue working alongside our fellow US onion growers and wonderful advocates like the National Onion Association to bring this amazing food to consumers like you. 

Ready to try onions grown “The Gill Way”? Contact our sales department to learn more. 

It’s National Fresh Fruits & Vegetables Month – Eat an Onion!

June is National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month, and yes, it is a real holiday!

As the peak season for many early garden crops means they find their way into markets, this special month is an excellent time to take advantage of freshly picked fruits and vegetables.

Fruits and vegetables are real foods that provide real benefits to your body. Instead of being filled with processed ingredients you can’t pronounce, you can rely on fruits and veggies to deliver essential vitamins and other nutrients. 

The saying goes, “You are what you eat.” So, why not be delicious and healthy? 

Real Foods, Real Benefits

The benefits of fruits and vegetables are no joke. Research shows that, “A diet rich in vegetables and fruits can lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, prevent some types of cancer, lower risk of eye and digestive problems, and have a positive effect upon blood sugar, which can help keep appetite in check.” 

If you’re hoping to lose a few extra pounds, try eating non-starchy options like green leafy vegetables, apples, and pears. These types of produce have low glycemic loads, which help prevent the spikes in blood sugar that make you feel hungry. 

There are at least nine different families of fruits and veggies. Each of these groups contain hundreds of different organic compounds that boost health and deliver essential nutrients to your body. 

Here are a few highlights

  • Veggies are naturally low in both fat content and calories. 
  • No vegetables contain cholesterol. 
  • The folic acid found in fruits and veggies help your body form red blood cells. 
  • Produce is high in Vitamin A — which promotes healthy skin and eyes and protects against infections — and Vitamin C — which aids in iron absorption, promotes healing of cuts and wounds, and boosts the health of teeth and gums. 

Revamp Your Eating Habits with Fruits and Vegetables

Simply by swapping out processed or high sugar foods for fruits and veggies, we can all work to reverse national trends toward obesity and increase the quality and length of our lives. 

Here are a few simple ideas for incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet:

  • Keep healthy options in view. Place snackable fruits and veggies in plain sight so they are the first things you see when you start to feel hungry. 
  • Prep for success. Keep individual portions of cleaned and chopped fruits and vegetables in containers or bags in your fridge, ready to grab for a snack or pack into lunches. 
  • Make trying something new a tradition. Each week, pick a new fruit or vegetable to try in your meals. You may find produce and recipes you never knew you liked before. 
  • Embrace variety. The larger the variety of fruits and veggies you consume, the better. Color is a great guide. Try to have a dark green, yellow or orange, and red fruit or veggie each day. 
  • Swap out carbs for vegetables. Instead of traditional pastas, try veggie based pastas or fresh veggie spirals. Cauliflower can be a great option instead of potatoes. 

A Good Word for Onions

Now, we have to put in a good word for onions. After all, at Gills Onions, we are the onion experts. We know how great onions can be for your health, and you should, too.

Onions are low in sodium, low in calories, and fat free. They contain high amounts of essential nutrients including: 

  • Vitamin C
  • Dietary fiber
  • Folic acid
  • Calcium
  • Iron

You can use onions in a salve to treat insect stings or as the main ingredient in homemade cough syrup. Onions also contain powerful antioxidants that delay damage to your cells and tissues and eliminate free radicals in your body.

Studies show that onions may reduce the risk of certain diseases including cancer, gastric ulcers, heart disease, cataracts, and osteoporosis. 

In short, onions are always a healthy choice! So, choose more fruits and veggies in your next meal (and don’t forget the onions!). 

Ready to try onions grown “The Gill Way”? Contact our sales department to learn more.