There are multiple different kinds of onions, but their basic function is to elevate the flavor of whatever it is that you are cooking. There are two main groups of onions – green onions and those onions that are referred to as “dry”. The dry onions are divided into spring and summer varieties that are sweet and fall and winter varieties which are best for storing and have a more robust taste.
Green onions are harvested while the shoots (the tops) are still green. They are best chopped up and used as toppings for baked potatoes, salads and soup. Scallions are small, mostly light lavender onions and they can be used much the same as green onions. They are often used interchangeably in recipes, but they are two different varieties.
Dry onions are yellow, red or even white in color. These are picked when the shoots have died. They will most often be covered with a papery covering. Spring and summer onions are sweeter, but don’t keep as well as fall and winter varieties. The most common variety of spring and summer onions is Vidalia, which gets its name from where it is grown in Georgia. Other varieties are the Walla Walla and Spring Sweet. Vidalia onions are really good in French onion soup.
Fall and winter onions are good for long term storage and can be found year round. They are best in late fall, however. They are often yellow, but can also be red or white in color. These onions are best used for recipes that need to simmer, such as soups or alongside roasts. These onions are also awesome for pickling and are particularly good for being battered and deep fried – think bloomin’ onion!
So, what are leeks? Leeks are a part of the onion family as well. The bundle of leaves that forms the bottom of the leek is the best part for eating. They are best when sliced and fried or sautéed; they can also be eaten raw or as a part of a leek soup. Boiling will make them mushy, so timing is important. The flavor is best described as a cross between an onion and cucumber.
If you think that you don’t like onions, try them with different cooking methods. Try the different varieties and I am sure that you will something that you will like!
What is your favorite onion recipe?