Last updated: October 25, 2021

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In the area of cooking, there are various spices, which are important while giving a good taste to the food, moreover, if all-natural spices are used, there is a nutritious and healthy contribution.

The onion is one of the most used, and if you want to know more, keep reading this ReviewBox article. The seasoning of food, depending on the dish, can be vital to find the flavour you are looking for, and the onion is one of the most basic and elementary, because, with the right amount, it can enhance the flavour of the food, without becoming too obvious, as can sometimes happen with pepper.

Probably, if you are not familiar with the product, you feel a bit lost with regard to the selection, as you do not know the main characteristics of the product, as well as the points that help you to compare different variants. If this is your case, don't worry, in this article you will learn everything you need to know.




Summary

  • An onion is basically a vegetable with a spicy taste and a strong smell, which is used to season food, as it accentuates the flavour in dishes, achieving a better result when combining different spices. It can be used in any type of preparation.
  • Within the vegetable market, there is a great variety of onions, and you may get confused, choosing the one that is less convenient for you, that is why it is important that you know them, especially these two types: the white onion, which has a strong smell, or the purple onion, which has a mild flavour.
  • Before you decide on a final presentation, it is important that you take into account certain factors that will help you compare between different options, so that it will be easier for you to choose. Colour, taste, presentation and texture are important points to consider while shopping.

The best onion : Our Picks

Buying guide: What you need to know about onions

After knowing the three best onion presentations, you should already have a clearer idea about their function and quality, and you may even have a model in mind to buy. However, before you make a concrete decision, it is good to know certain terms that encompass the product as such.

The onion can be the ideal element to give a different touch to your home-cooked meals and to share with friends. (Photo: Kzenon / 123rf.com)

What are onions?

An onion is, in short, a vegetable used as a condiment, which allows food to acquire a touch of the spiciness it naturally has. Depending on how it is used, it can accentuate flavours, or completely dominate the taste of food, making it very versatile in the preparation of dishes. Its common shape is round, usually with two pointed tips, which are the root and the junction of the layers.

On the inside, it has lines, which we use as a guide to make the cuts, so that it is easier to add to food. It can also be found in powder form, where all the flavour is condensed, making it easier to apply.

What are the advantages of onion?

Among its many advantages is the ease with which it provides flavour with very little quantity, making it one of the condiments that tends to last longer. In terms of nutrition, onions aid digestion and prevent cholesterol levels from rising, as well as being an antioxidant, anti-diabetic and anti-carcinogenic.

It may seem to you at this point that this condiment is perfect, and in fact it is an option that is a must in many people's kitchens, due to its practicality and its various benefits. However, like any product, it has disadvantages, which you should be aware of in order to be more confident about your purchase.

Advantages
  • It is anti-carcinogenic
  • It gives a great flavour with little quantity
  • It is diuretic
  • It improves digestion.
Disadvantages
  • It has a striking smell.If too much is added, the taste is too strong.

White onion or purple onion - what should you pay attention to?

There are several varieties of onions on the market today, and although it may not seem like it, they are very different from each other, and are recommended for different uses in the kitchen. There are two types in particular that are very typical in the market, and they are very different from each other: The white onion and the purple onion.

White onion: It is the most typical onion in the kitchen, as it is usually the favourite for seasoning, due to its strong flavour. It is recommended to be eaten cooked, normally sautéed, as it releases the flavours better. It should be added carefully, not too much, as its flavour can be overwhelming. This type of onion is recommended for dishes that need it as a garnish, that is to say, it is a complement to the strong flavour, but it is not the main ingredient in the preparation. Its raw flavour can be too strong, so if you decide to eat it this way, you should do so with care, and using other elements that help to soften it.

Purple onion: This type of onion is one of the most striking in the kitchen. Its smell is not as strong as the white one, and the same happens with its flavour, so it is normally used in preparations where it can be used raw, as this is the state where its flavour is most appreciated. It is very typical in the preparation of sandwiches. If this type of onion is cooked, its flavour will decrease even more its intensity, going almost unnoticed, that is why it is not very efficient nor recommended to be used in cooked preparations, besides its colour is also dulled a little by the fire, something that is very disadvantageous considering that it is its main attraction.

White onion Purple onion
Odour Very strong, itchy Not too strong
Colour White Lilac to dark purple
Uses Addition to cooked food Main raw element
Reaction to fire Enhances flavour Diminishes flavour

What is the shallot?

Among the types of onion there is a very particular variety, which has more prominence in French cuisine. It is a more elongated type of onion, with a layer covering it, which has a light brown colour. Its outer shell is a little thicker than that of other common onions.

This is the shallot. Its flavour is very mild, so it can only be clearly appreciated if it is in large quantities, which is why it is only used as a complement in dishes that use it, most of which are French. Its spiciness helps to improve the flavour of food, and as this is its function, it is very versatile in terms of the dishes where it is incorporated.

The shallot crystallises easily when it is exposed to fire, so it is seen more as a complement, as its flavour and aroma do not allow it to be the protagonist of any preparation. It is perfect to leave the diner guessing about the flavour of the food, because even when it is mild, it is accentuated.

What is a spring onion?

The spring onion is a type of elongated onion, which is similar to a garlic bulb. It has an elongated shape, with a green to white gradient. It is easy to confuse with other types of vegetables, but stands out particularly for its smell, which is as strong as that of the white onion.

Despite having a slightly overpowering aroma, in terms of flavour, it is milder than the white onion, but without being too much like the purple onion or the shallot. This type of onion is perfect for meats and even soups, as well as being decorative, as its green colour makes it stand out on the plate.

It is very easy to chop, which makes it more practical than the common onion, regardless of its colour. Although, due to its shape, it does not allow the type of cut in "rings" or "julienne" that is so typical in this vegetable, but it can be cut into small pieces, which are added to the food, giving a slightly spicy taste instantly.

Purchasing criteria

At this point, it is very likely that you already have a fairly clear idea about this product, and even know which presentation of it is best for you to buy. However, it is important that, before you make your purchase, you are aware of certain factors that will allow you to make comparisons, helping you to make your final selection

  • Flavour
  • Presentation
  • Texture
  • Colour

Flavour

One of the most determining factors in onions is their flavour, as depending on what you are looking to do with them, one type or another will suit you, with greater or lesser strength in this aspect. Remember that choosing the wrong one can completely change the flavour of the dish and the experience as such.

Strong flavour: If you are looking for the sharpness of the onion to stand out in a dish, or to help complement this characteristic, it is best to choose white onions, as both their flavour and smell are very striking, and depending on the quantity and level of cooking, you can control the strength of the flavour.

Mild flavour: In case you prefer a mild flavour, which provides more texture, types of onion such as purple onion or shallot, which are more of a crunchy experience, while their flavour is present, but not overpowering. They are ideal for eating raw, as they are appreciated to the fullest.

Sweet flavour: There is a type of onion, known as sweet onion, that when cooked gives a light caramel flavour to the dish being prepared. If you are looking for this particular type of onion, this particular type of onion is the one to go for. It is normally used as a special addition to hamburgers or pizza.

Presentation

The way in which the onion is presented may or may not influence certain finishes in the dishes you prepare, but it can also be more or less practical, so you must be clear about which aspect you want to prioritise, starting from the main need you have with regard to this product.

Vegetable: This presentation is the most common and economical, as it is the classic onion, sold in vegetable markets, coming directly from the farms where they are harvested. It is the purest form of onion, but to add them to meals you will have to chop them on the spot. Perfect for those who enjoy cooking.

Powdered: Onion powder is a more practical way of working with onions, and has multiple benefits, such as it does not sting while you apply it (as it does when chopping), it goes on the pan in seconds, and it stores easily. However, it does not offer texture, and the flavour tends to be much less intense.

Regardless of the presentation, onion, if added in the right amount, will add more flavour to any meal you prepare. (Photo: Andrea De Martin / 123rf.com)

Texture

Something that onion can add a lot to food is texture, and this depends on which onion you choose and how you prepare it, so you should know exactly what kind of result you are looking to generate with onion in the dishes you prepare.

Crunchy: If you want to have onion for salads or sandwiches, it is best to look at this vegetable from the point of view of crunchiness, as this is what gives body to these types of preparations. Both white and purple onions work, but purple onions are a little less intense and more decorative.

Soft: If you want the onion to be flavourful and soft when you bite into it, as in roast meat or rice, then white, cooked onions may be the best option for you, as they not only accentuate the flavour of the food with their characteristic spiciness, but the heat crystallises them, making them very soft and transparent.

Colour

As a last point, the colour of the onion is an issue that you should take into consideration, especially if you are going to prepare dishes for other people, and you are very interested in the presentation. The more colour you use in your dishes, the more attractive they will look.

White: This is the most typical onion colour, and is used when you do not want the onion to stand out, as the dish has other points of attraction. In these cases, the onion is normally a secondary complement, which you do not want the diner to notice until the moment of tasting the food as such.

Purple: This is one of the most decorative, as its colour is extremely striking, and it stands out a lot combined with green and red, which are usually present in salads. If the onion is an element that, within the recipe, has a certain prominence, and you want the diner to understand it, this colour will make it shine easily.

Green: This is a very calm colour, ideal to decorate the complements of a larger dish, such as a white rice, for example. It is found in scallions, and is ideal for working with colour without making it stand out too much, so that it does not detract from the other components of the dish as such.

(Featured image photo: Alina Kholopova / 123rf.com)

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