Storing and Preparation Onions
All onions vegetables except green onions should be stored in a cool,
dry, well-ventilated place, preferably in the dark, where they should
last at least a month or two, and sometimes up to three. Bulb onions
are best when kept in ventilated baskets and away from potatoes.
Although storage bins frequently place them side by side, potatoes give
off a gas that will cause onions to spoil more quickly than usual.
Vidalia growers, who are well aware of how fragile their onions are,
suggest that these onions, and the other super sweets, be stored so
that they do not touch or bruise each other. Clean nylon stockings or
pantyhose are useful for this. Drop an onion into the toe, tie a knot,
and drop in another. Continue until full. The stockings can be hung up
in a very cool dark place. Each onion is cut off individually just
below the knot, leaving the others untouched. Plan on using them all
within three to four weeks.
Boiling onions vegetables should be used as quickly as possible because
they have a tendency to sprout. It is probably wise to buy them just
before using, rather than trying to store them.
Shallots are best kept in a small basket in a cool place. Go over them
once a week or so to remove any that may have begun to soften or
sprout. They will usually stay fresh for three to four weeks.
Green onions vegetables need to be kept refrigerated. Cut off any
wilted tops, dry them if they are wet from misting, and store unwrapped
in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator. If you need to keep them
for more than a few days, take the bands off the bunches and seal the
loose onions in a perforated plastic vegetable bag. Be sure to sort
through them every day or two to remove any that may have begun to
Who has not cried when chopping onions? Once an onion is cut, it gives
off a sulfur compound (the same sulfur compound that gives onions their
unique strong flavor) that can irritate eyes and cause them to water.
To alleviate this unpleasant experience some cooks suggest cutting the
onions under running water, but I have not had much success doing this,
and I think it can increase the possibility of cutting yourself if the
knife slips in a wet hand. Still others have sworn by holding a slice
of bread in your mouth while doing the cutting. The bread does absorb
some of the sulfur, but I have not been able to get past feeling
foolish looking. I think the only convenient way to lessen this effect
is to refrigerate the onions you intend to use for several hours before
peeling, slicing, or chopping.
Bulb onions need to be peeled before using. If the recipe calls for
halving or chopping the onion, halve it lengthwise before peeling. The
skin will come off more easily.
To slice whole peeled bulb onions, cut off the stem end. Cut a small
round off one side, then set the onion on the flat point and, holding
the onion with your fingers, nails pointing under slightly toward your
palms, slice the onion to the thickness you want.
To chop peeled bulb onions, cut the onion in half from stem end to root
end. Lay the onion down on the cut side with the root end to the left
(if you are right-handed). Using a large sharp chef's knife, cut a
small wedge from the stem end to remove the tough little point. Then
make a series of lengthwise cuts perpendicular to the cutting board.
Holding the onion together, make several horizontal cuts from right to
left, parallel to the cutting board, almost back to the root end. Then
cut across the onion. It should fall into dice. The size of the dice
will depend on the thickness of each cut.
I prefer to chop onions vegetables by hand. Using the food processor
breaks down the cells in suc a way that much sulfur is released and the
onions become extremely strong and somewhat bitter and watery. For very
finely chopped onions, I suggest using either a Japanese or Chinese
cleaver to mince onions that have been diced as above, or to invest in
an Italian mezzaluna (an arc-shaped blade with a vertical handle on
each end - the name means "half moon" in Italian), which allows you to
use a rocking motion that easily reduce diced onions to a very fine
To peel boiling onions easily, drop them into boiling water to cover
for 1 minute, drain and then slip off the skins. These onions are
generally cooked and eaten whole.
Cut the root ends off green onions. Wash them well, peeling off any
layers that may be wilted or soft. Slice the onions across thick or
thin. Or cut them into 2-inch lengths and then slice lengthwise into
thin matchsticks strips. They can also be cut into 1/4 to 1 inch length
on the diagonal - slanting across the onion - then roll the onion 1/4
turn and cut again on the diagonal. The pieces will have an attractive,
irregular shape. Continue to roll and cut, making the pieces as long as
Shallots can be minced using the same system as for chopping whole bulb
onions, except that the knife should be smaller and the cuts finer, or
sliced before cooking. They can also be easily minced in a small food
or herb processor. Shallots, like garlic, burn easily, which makes them
bitter. They need long slow cooking - or constant stirring, if cooked
over higher heat - to keep them from turning too dark.
When there are no super sweet onion in
the market, regular bulb onions, especially red ones, can be made less
strong for eating raw by soaking them in ice water. Peel and slice the
onions or cut them into thin wedges. Place the slices in a deep bowl.
Pour in ice water to cover and if you like, add several ice cubes. Soak
for 30 minutes, drain and then follow the desired recipe. The pieces of
onion will be extra crisp and less sharp tasting.