What Makes Onions So Flavorful?

Onions. They are the king of the United Federation of Flavor — the mascot that says to cooks and eaters everywhere, “Welcome to flavor city.” They also pack a potent punch if they aren’t processed correctly (and even when they are). 

What gives these vital veggies their signature tastes and smells? And how can you get the best of their flavor? Let’s dive in.

The Secret to Flavor? Science.

Think about an onion. What does it taste like? What does it smell like? Here’s the thing: Whatever you answered, you’re probably right. 

Onions come in hundreds of varieties. They can be sweet or sour, soft or crisp, tangy or dripping with umami. The intensity of an onion’s smell and flavor also depends on its freshness. If you’ve ever picked an onion fresh out of the soil, you may have been surprised to find it didn’t have a smell. So, what is going on? 

Onions have a unique chemistry with molecules that contain a whole lot of sulphuric compounds. Sulphur is responsible for those pesky tears that pop up anytime you chop an onion, but it is also responsible for flavor and odor. The scientific name for this group of compounds is thiosulfinates. 

But here’s the really interesting thing. A fresh, raw onion doesn’t have these molecules. They form after an onion is damaged, like when you chop, slice, or dice. Cutting an onion breaks up cell structure and releases the molecules. Enzymes come into contact with the molecules and create the thiosulfinates and their characteristically strong smell, all in 30 seconds or less.

How intense the smell and flavor of your onion is depends on its variety, or cultivar, and how much sulfur was in the soil. Spring onions harvested in the early spring tend to be more mild, while storage onions harvested in the late summer and early fall tend to be more pungent.

How Does Cooking Affect Onion Flavor?

How you prepare onions will affect the flavor. Since slicing and dicing releases the odor and flavor, the more finely you chop an onion, the more flavorful it will be. On the other hand, a process like boiling an onion will break down the enzymes that spur the chemical reactions creating a less pungent flavor. 

Different levels of heat can control levels of flavor. Heat spurs a range of chemical reactions that all interact with the fundamental make-up of the onion. The longer the cooking time, the more mild and savory an onion becomes. 

Caramelizing or sauteing onions on low or moderate heat causes a reaction between the sugars and the proteins. The onions turn brown, the sugars come free, and the sulphuric compounds react over and over until the pungent flavor is gone and the sweet sugar flavor remains. 

The Gills Onions Promise

At Gills Onions, we are dedicated to creating onions that stay fresh longer and have the best flavor you can find. From the seeds we grow to the soil we grow them in to the way we slice and dice the onions, to the packaging we use to keep them safe until they arrive in your kitchen, flavor is always top of mind. 

We hope you enjoy them.

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

Get Ready to Fall in Love with Mirepoix

Our Gills Onions retail products are designed to save you time and work in the kitchen. That’s why we are so excited to announce a new addition to our product line: Mirepoix. 

Mirepoix is an aromatic mix of onions, carrots, and celery. Any great chef knows that Mirepoix is the base for hundreds of delicious recipes, and now home chefs like you can reap the benefits, too, without all the prep work. 

How Do I Use Mirepoix?

Mirepoix is one of the most versatile and essential vegetable blends. It’s a third onion, a third celery, and a third carrot. It can be added to or serve as a base for sauces, soups, and marinades. It makes a killer roux. It can accompany braised meats. You can toss it in a slow cooker or pressure cooker for added flavor to just about anything you’re whipping up. Oh, and it’s really tasty in casseroles.

So, why don’t more people use Mirepoix in their everyday cooking? Because it is a pain to prepare. That barrier goes away with our pre-diced, pre-mixed Mirepoix blend. 

Here are a few fun recipes that call for Mirepoix to get your creative juices flowing: 

Less Chopping, More Enjoying

During the pandemic, so many people found their passion for cooking delicious meals at home. The only thing that makes fresh, home cooked food even better is when your vegetables are prepped and ready to go. Spend less time chopping, dicing, and slicing and more time enjoying food with the ones you love. 

Oh, and don’t forget that eliminating the need to chop up all those vegetables also eliminates the chance of knife injuries in your kitchen. Definitely an added bonus.

Find Gills Onions Products in Your Local Store

While you’re grabbing some delicious Mirepoix off the shelf, check out our other fabulous retail products (all now with new resealable film!): 

  • Diced Yellow Onions – Use to spice up any recipe that calls for chopped or diced onions. 
  • Diced Red Onions – Add something extra to soups, chilis, and sauces, or use as a colorful condiment. 
  • Diced Celery and Onions – The perfect blend for potato salads, tuna salads, and holiday stuffings and casseroles. 
  • Diced Pickled Onions — A tasty, tangy addition to salads, burgers, sandwiches, and cooked dishes. 

So, get out there, and take our new Mirepoix (and maybe a few more tasty pre-prepped products from above) for a test drive. We can’t wait to hear what you think!

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

We Love Our New Resealable Film (You Should, Too!)

Innovation is the name of the game at Gills Onions. We’re always looking for new and improved ways to grow our onions, serve our customers, and take care of our planet. That’s why we are so excited to announce our new resealable film for our retail line. 

Now, it may not sound that exciting. You may be thinking, “What’s the big deal about some film?” 

Well, first off all, it’s resealable film. You can’t forget about the resealable part. Second, it’s a very big deal. Here’s why you should be just as excited about the new resealable film on Gills Onions retail product as we are. 

It’s Eco-Friendly

Doing right by the environment and minimizing waste are two of the most important parts of what we do at Gills Onions. We want to leave a big, beautiful, healthy earth behind for future generations. Every element of our business — down to the packaging we use for our products — affects our planet. 

In order for our retail products to stay fresh, they need to breathe. Traditionally, we place a breathable film onto each cup of product with a heat seal. Then, we put a lid on top. When you bring your veggies home, you remove the seal, take out what you need, and put the lid back on. It’s super convenient and stores well. 

But, our new resealable film brings all those benefits plus it reduces the use of plastic by 20%. You don’t need a lid anymore. You can peel back the film to remove the veggies you need and then stick it right back in place, over and over again, without losing freshness. By maintaining the breathability of the resealable film, we are able to keep the longest shelf life in the industry — 18 days. 

Resealable Film Increases Food Safety

When you go to the store and buy your vegetables, you want to know that food you bring home is safe and protected from germs and contaminants. We put forth so much effort to keep our onions and vegetables clean and healthy before they arrive at the store, and we want our customers to be confident when they see the Gills Onions name.

When our resealable film is peeled back for the first time, the seal changes colors. This makes it simple to be sure that your product hasn’t been tampered with or damaged. If the seal is clear, your food is safe. 

It’s Convenient

The retail produce market is growing, especially because of the pandemic period during which so many people found their passion for cooking delicious meals at home. The only thing that makes fresh vegetables better is when they are prepped and ready to go. That means less time spent chopping and dicing and more time enjoying delicious food with the ones you love. 

You’ll find our new resealable film on all our retail products: 

  • Diced Yellow Onions – Use to spice up any recipe that calls for chopped or diced onions. 
  • Diced Red Onions – Add something extra to soups, chilis, and sauces, or use as a colorful condiment. 
  • Diced Celery and Onions – The perfect blend for potato salads, tuna salads, and holiday stuffings and casseroles. 
  • Diced Mirepoix – An aromatic mix of onions, carrots, and celery. Add to sauces, braised meats, and marinades. 
  • Diced Pickled Onions — A tasty, tangy addition to salads, burgers, sandwiches, and cooked dishes. 

So, get out there, and take our new resealable film for a test drive. We can’t wait to hear what you think!

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

Lessons Learned from 2020 and Industry Predictions for 2021

When it comes to the year 2020, where do we begin? So much has happened, and so much has changed. An unprecedented world pandemic turned the entire foodservice industry on its head, but it also taught us some valuable lessons. Unexpected trends and adaptations fueled innovations that will carry through into 2021 and beyond. 

So, while we wouldn’t jump at the chance to repeat 2020 anytime soon, we are grateful to be standing strong on the other side, and we’re optimistic for the future. Here’s what we’ve seen over the past year in the food industry and what we expect to see through the rest of 2021.

Discovering the Chef Within

With quarantine measures in place, the average Joes and Janes of the world became acquainted with their kitchens. For too many people, cooking is a lost art — or a skill they never took the time to find in the first place. Being stuck at home opened up an opportunity to explore the amazing world of food by trying new recipes and new foods. Baking bread, pickling, preserving, and canning foods are more popular than they have been in decades.

Luckily for those of us at Gills Onions, the tried and true produce of the world wasn’t forgotten. After all, an onion is a healthy, flavorful, and versatile ingredient. Every time someone purchased produce to cook their next meal, they supported farmers and producers across our nation. Thanks for cooking!

Prioritizing Health and Sustainability 

With or without a pandemic, you always need to eat more veggies. That’s a sentiment that both foodservice and individual consumers took to heart over the last year. Plant-based diets continue to be on the rise with a focus on health boosting trends like CBD products, herbal pharmaceuticals, kombucha drinks, and, of course, plant-based proteins. 

We also saw greater concern for sustainability and a focus on the environment. As a society, we were able to take a step back and really think about how our personal choices affect those around us, our planet included. 

Sustainability is at the heart of everything we do at Gills Onions, so we are excited for the opportunity to share our mission with even more audiences. In 2021, we anticipate a trend toward more interest in where food comes from and how it is grown. By encouraging widespread use of conscious farming practices, we can all work together for a healthier planet while improving our personal health as well. 

The Evolution of Delivery 

When rising numbers of COVID-19 cases forced foodservice closures and put indoor dining on notice across the world, restaurants and grocery stores had to adapt. The shift from indoor dining to delivery, takeout, drive-thru services, and ghost kitchens allowed our industry to rise from the ashes. Even though many retail food establishments continue to struggle, delivery options have become a viable way to keep doors open. 

Before the pandemic, grocery store pick up and delivery was a trend many expected to take off. We never could have predicted how quickly these services would become essential for many Americans. 

At Gills Onions, we’ve had to adapt to the changing landscape, too. We’re committed to helping our customers as they reopen and providing them with the same great service — and great onions — as we always have. Whether you’re back to indoor dining, keeping it outdoors, or still relying on takeout and delivery, we’ll be there to save you time and money with high quality, value-added produce.

Lingering Lockdown Habits

As we look to the future, we hope that many of the good habits and attitudes developed during lockdown will carry on. Knowing where your food comes from and being conscious about what you eat is so important for physical health and for our environment. While 2020 was a difficult year, it also took us back to our roots and reminded us why food is so wonderful to begin with. 

Here’s to a new normal in 2021!

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

Are You Ready to Air Fry?

The COVID-19 pandemic created more time spent at home and more time spent in the kitchen. As many families grew tired of their go-to recipes, they began to expand their horizons to new foods and new methods of preparation. The star of the show? Air frying. 

“How to air fry …” was a top Google search in 2020 and continues to be high on the charts into 2021. The term has over 1 million hashtags, and social media can’t get enough of fryer hacks and fryer friendly foods. Air frying is even a clever — and tasty — way to prepare vegetables (like onions!). If you haven’t joined the air frying revolution, here’s what you need to know.

The mechanics of air frying

The first thing you need to know about air fryers is that they don’t actually fry things. Unlike deep fryers that cook food in hot oil, an air fryer cooks food with very hot air. Once you place your food in the frying basket, the machine blows hot air to create a convection cooking effect that browns the food. The crunchy texture is similar to what you would achieve by deep frying.

Cutting the oil out of the process makes it a slightly healthier —and much easier — way to prepare food. 

What can you air fry?

Unlike a deep fryer, you can’t cook foods that you have dipped in a thick liquid batter in an air fryer. Remember, it’s a great way to cook but isn’t really frying. Breaded and dry-seasoned items turn out best after an air frying treatment. Air fryers are also great for reheating previously fried foods. No more soggy microwave-reheated pizza, fries, or chicken tenders. 

Now, let’s talk about vegetables. You can fry virtually any vegetable in an air fryer. Air fried vegetables are warm, crispy, and delicious. Experimenting with spices and seasonings can make eating vegetables fun again. And you know what veggie cooks especially well? Onions!

Onions are a versatile vegetable. In an air fryer, they can be french fried, sautéed, or turned into onion rings. Don’t forget one of the world’s favorite and most beautiful fried onion dishes: the blooming onion

Are you ready to air fry?

So, should you be the next one in line to buy an air fryer? That’s up to you. If you’re interested in experimenting with new ways to prepare your foods, a healthier alternative to traditional deep frying, or just a convenient way to cook your vegetables, an air fryer may be the perfect choice for you. 

Will it air fry? There’s one way to find out. (And remember, with onions, the answer is yes!)

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

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

Onions Make Meal Prep More Fun

The holidays can be stressful for a lot of reasons, but food doesn’t have to be one of them. Meal prepping is a great way to stay on track and avoid anxious feelings when surrounded by huge portions and piles of sweets this season.

At Gills Onions, we’re passionate about onions and what they bring to the table. That’s why we want to share some tips and tricks that will turn your meal prepping from blasé to bursting with flavor. These breakfast, lunch, and dinner ideas are nutritious, delicious, and will make your holiday season more enjoyable. Make space in your fridge and freezer, and give these meal prep ideas a whirl. 

Add Onions to the Most Important Meal of the Day

Caramelized onions add nutrition and flavor to any dish—especially breakfast. The easiest way to incorporate them is to prepare a large batch at the start of the week, then add them to several different dishes. Onions take about an hour to caramelize properly, but the payoff is well worth it. Plus, you’ll have time to prepare some other breakfast items while they’re cooking. Store your excess caramelized onions in the fridge (if you’ll be eating them within a few days), or in the freezer for up to three months.

Here are some breakfast options that will start your day off on the right track with caramelized onions.

  • Breakfast burritos — The great thing about breakfast burritos is how versatile they can be. Depending on your preferences, start with whole wheat, low carb, or flour tortillas, and add whatever sounds appetizing to you. We love to scramble a large batch of eggs (or liquid egg whites), then mix in veggies like peppers, spinach, and caramelized onions. Potatoes, cheese, and breakfast sausage are tasty mix-ins as well. Once you have all of your ingredients prepared, wrap up your burritos and freeze them for an easy on-the-go breakfast option. Simply microwave frozen burritos for a few minutes, and head out the door. 
  • Savory overnight oats — Savory oatmeal and overnight oats have both become quite popular over the last few years, and for good reason. By combining the two, you’ll have another quick and easy meal-prepped breakfast option in your arsenal. To prepare your overnight oats, combine dry oats, greek yogurt, milk (or a milk alternative), and a dash of salt in a mason jar and place in the fridge overnight. Enjoy either hot or cold, with caramelized onions, a soft boiled egg (which can also be prepared and stored beforehand), and some fresh tomatoes. 

Lunch Time Made Easy

Another great way to meal prep with onions is by pickling a large batch of red onions to add to lunches. To prepare your pickled red onions, simply add sliced onions to a sealable container with salt, sugar, apple cider vinegar, and warm water. Let them cool to room temperature, and store them in the fridge.

  • Simple Salad — Salads are another meal prep item that can be as complex, or as simple as you like. We love the simplicity of dividing fresh lettuce, protein (like grilled chicken or chickpeas), and other chopped veggies like carrots, Brussels sprouts, and cucumbers into separate containers. Having everything pre-portioned and planned out makes eating vegetables so much more inviting. When you’re ready for lunch, simply grab a container, add pickled onions and your favorite dressing, and enjoy. 
  • Vegan sweet potato rice bowls — To prepare delicious, filling rice bowls, cook a large batch of rice, black beans, corn, and cubed sweet potatoes and divide into containers. When you’re ready to enjoy, heat up your portion and add pickled onions and avocado for a flavor explosion. 

End your Day with Fresh Onions

Lastly, pre-cut onions make meal prep for dinner time a breeze. At Gills Onions, we specialized in packaging peeledsliced, and diced onions, but if you’re buying onions whole, simply cut them beforehand, and store them in your freezer for easy access. 

  • Veggie-Heavy Pasta Sauce — An easy way to meal-prep pasta is by preparing a large batch of sauce beforehand. Cook your pre-cut onions in a tomato-based sauce with other vegetables like zucchini (be careful not to overcook), green pepper, olives, mushrooms, and garlic. Once it’s cooled, store it in the fridge for easy access at dinnertime. Tip: When making pasta as a meal-prep item, make sure to slightly undercook the noodles to prevent a mushy mess when reheating. 
  • Grand Slam Chili — This Grand Slam Chili recipe with shredded beef is delicious and can be easily stored and reheated for dinner, and Gills Diced Celery and Onions make this recipe even easier. Mix things up by using this recipe for chili cheese dogs, over nachos, or with rice.

However you like to meal prep, there’s no need to sacrifice flavor in the process. Make your holiday season less stressful by planning ahead with onions.  

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
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
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

Onions: The Key to Flavorful Cooking

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 first-century Greeks used onions to fortify athletes for the Olympic games, and by the early sixth century, ancient Indians celebrated onions for both their flavor and their health benefits. 

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

Today, onions are eaten and grown in more countries than any other vegetable

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. 

Onions are delicious in salads and can be the secret ingredient for your next outdoor BBQ. The culinary possibilities are endless. 

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

Can Onions Freeze? Yes, Please!

One of the most common questions we get at Gills Onions is … do onions freeze well? The answer is yes!

When you buy Gills Onions at your local grocery store, they can be frozen and saved for later use. All onions can be frozen, but because of our unique growing practices, Gills Onions present with higher quality after freezing than the average onion. You will definitely be able to tell the difference. 

Here’s everything you need to know about why you should freeze onions, how to freeze them for optimal quality and flavor, and how to use those frozen onions in your next recipe. 

Onions? Freeze Away!

One of the many great things about onions is that they naturally store longer than many other vegetables. But, if you do find yourself with more onions than you need right now on your hands, you can absolutely freeze them for up to six months

One important thing to realize, though, is that frozen onions can then only be used in cooked recipes. The texture of a fresh onion will naturally break down during the freezing process, so you won’t want to enjoy thawed onions raw. But, they will be delicious sauteed, caramelized, grilled or roasted. 

Make Meal Prep a Breeze When You Freeze 

There are many reasons to freeze onions. It will save you time and money, keep you from wasting onions, and make meal prep a breeze. After all, nobody likes chopping onions. Our recommendation: Buy Gills Onions already diced and ready to use and freeze from there.

Onions are also the perfect ingredient to add to all sorts of recipes — including recipes that you can prep ahead of time and freeze for later, like slow cooker meals, soups, pasta dishes, enchiladas, and more. 

To freeze your onions, simply place diced onions in a freezer-friendly container or disposable bag. You may consider freezing onions in commonly used sizes of batches like one cup or two cup servings. The best part is that you don’t need to thaw your onions before you start cooking. Just dump frozen onions directly into the pan or pot. 

Why Gills Onions Freeze So Well 

Gills Onions are the perfect onion for freezing. What sets our onions apart from the rest is our unique prescription for growing onions that stay fresh. The key is to curate onions with less water in their cells than the typical bulk onion. 

Foods with high water content spoil faster and become mushy when thawed after freezing. So, our drier onions are a much better option. 

Ideas for Using Your Frozen Onions

Using your frozen onions is as easy as using an onion that you have freshly diced. The only major difference is that frozen onions will release more water during cooking than a fresh onion. You may need to adjust cooking times to allow that extra moisture to evaporate. 

Looking for a few recipe ideas to get you started? Here are some of our favorites:

Ready to try onions the Gills Way? Find them in your local grocery store today.