Human beings are all about flavor. We like to enjoy our food and explore new culinary experiences.
For centuries, mankind has sought out ways to elevate the food that we eat. Salts, spices, and newly discovered fruits and vegetables were celebrated, and, over time, perfected into the dishes we enjoy today.
When you’re looking to give your favorite dishes a flavorful — and healthy — boost, look no further than the onion.
A World History of Flavorful Onions
The seemingly humble onion has been a staple in the human diet since prehistoric times. They were one of the earliest cultivated crops and could be grown all over the world.
The ancient Egyptians saw onions as an object of worship, and artwork shows onions on the banquet tables of great feasts and on the altars of sacrifice to the gods.
The Europeans of the Middle Ages used onions as a staple in most meals. It was a favorite food of the very rich and the very poor. So much so that by the time the first European settlers came to America, they were sure to bring onions with them on the Mayflower.
Use Onions to Spice Up Your Own Dishes
Onions taste great, and they look great, too. Their versatility allows them to add flavor and texture to soups, salsas, curries, and sauces. They can also act as toppers for entrees like chili, hot dogs, and red meat.
Looking for a tangy side for your whitefish main course? Try combining diced onions with cucumbers, baby dill, sour cream, horseradish, and freshly cracked black pepper.
Or, if seared scallops are on the menu, consider placing them on a bed of diced onions, red seedless grapes, and Italian parsley.
In the mornings, you might sauté diced onions with red potatoes, parsley, and pancetta and mix with eggs to create a flavorful breakfast hash.
Simply keep in mind the four main ways to work with onions: freshcut, sweating, sauteing, and caramelizing.
- Fresh-cut onions. Onions require little prep work to bring the flavor. Fresh cut yellow onions tend to offer a mild flavor, while red onions bring in brighter, sharper tones. White onions can have a strong flavor but leave a clean, crisp after taste.
- Sweating onions. Sweating an onion means to cook it over low heat until the onion becomes soft and clear without browning. Use this method to soften flavor and texture and increase sweetness.
- Sauteing onions. To saute an onion, cook over high heat with a small amount of oil until onions are golden brown. These onions will be softer than fresh cut but not as soft as onions that have been sweated and will have a rich, sweet flavor.
- Caramelizing onions. Caramelization is a slow, delicate process that combines sweating and sauteing. Sweat onions over medium-low heat, adding small amounts of water anytime the onions start to look dry or begin to brown very quickly. The water moistens the onions and helps dissolve sugars to prevent burning. When the onions begin to brown, lower the heat and stir periodically. Caramelized onions provide deep, sweet flavor.
The Perks of Fresh-Cut Onions
If you’re still chopping onions, it’s a crying shame.
Fresh-cut onions save time and keep you safe. Whether you’re a busy chef who needs to spend more time cooking and less time chopping or a busy parent who needs to do the same, fresh-cut onions are the perfect way to enjoy the flavor and health benefits of this amazing vegetable without the risk of knife injuries or tears.
At Gills Onions, we specialize in fresh-cut yellow and red onions … but we love them all!
For over 35 years, our growers have cultivated the fields of Southern and Central California “The Gill Way,” applying our unique prescription of best practices and conservation techniques to create truly exceptional onions.
We grow, harvest, wash, peel, trim, and cut every onion that arrives in your kitchen. Gills Onions have the longest shelf life in the industry — 18 days — and are always preservative-free.
We are onion experts. It’s what we do, and we do it best. But don’t take our word for it. Our onions speak for themselves.
Ready to try onions the Gills Way? For more information, contact our sales department.