Nothing to cry over
Onions are a staple in kitchens around the world. They add flavour to many dishes and can be enjoyed either raw or cooked. Members of the Allium family which also includes garlic, shallots, leeks and chives, onions are nutrient-dense. This means they’re low in calories but high in vitamins and minerals.
It’s believed that organized onion cultivation started around 3,500 BC, when ancient civilizations using them became highly dependent on this great vegetable. Onions were easy to grow in any kind of soil or type of weather and were easy to store and preserve during the Winter months. The onion was much loved by the Egyptians, Babylonians, Hindu and ancient Chinese civilizations for their many uses – such as preventing thirst, providing a great source of energy and a variety of useful medicinal properties.
When you’re looking for onions make sure they are firm, with no soft spots, damp, or mouldy patches. Onion bulbs vary in size, shape, colour, and pungency - though warmer climates ten to produce onions with a milder, sweeter flavour than other climates. The onion’s characteristic pungency results from the sulphur-rich oil it contains; the release of this oil during peeling or chopping is what brings tears to the eyes. The best way to avoid this is to not cut into the root of the onion, as this is where most of the oil resides.
A huge proportion of the onions sold in Ireland are imported, so do try your best to look out for Irish onions and support our Irish growers while they are available.
This month's Onions from Keeling's Select comes from Country Crest in Lusk, Co.Dublin.