All about onions - part 2

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~ Sweets (**) are most often sold under a regional name, such as Vidalia (Georgia), Maui (Hawaii), Walla Walla (Washington), Nu-Mex (New Mexico), and Texas 1015 (so called because they are planted on October 15). Through the spring and summer there is a parade of sweets. A second blast of Vidalias comes around Thanksgiving as growers ship onions that have been held in low-oxygen storage since spring.

~ Scallions (*), sometimes called green onions, are onions harvested while young and slender and marketed with the green tops still intact. They are generally considered a subcategory of fresh onions.

When the bulb is plump, they are usually called knobby or creaming onions. Neither of these types, which are sold by the bunch, stores well; they ought to be used within three days of purchase. Both mild-flavored scallions and the somewhat hotter creaming onions are good raw and cooked. The green tops of the scallions can be eaten as well as the white bulbs.

Onions should feel firm when pressed and should not be covered with a powdery gray mold. Storage onions will keep for many months in a cool, dark, dry place with good air circulation. Fresh onions will keep from one to three months wrapped separately in foil and refrigerated, or they can be knotted in stockings and hung in a cool, dry place.

When cutting onions, use a stainless steel knife since a carbon steel blade will sometimes discolor the onions. There is a greater concentration of the irritating sulfur compound in the root, so always cut from top (the neck) to bottom in order to leave the root end intact for as long as possible. To peel pearl and boiling onions, blanch them in a pot of boiling water for one minute, then drain and plunge them into ice water. Using a sharp knife, cut off both the root and stem ends and remove the skin. Only chop onions in a food processor when you are using them in a soup or a very runny sauce because this will bruise the pieces and cause them to disintegrate when cooked.

by Linda and Fred Griffith Food and Wine June 1995 Submitted By DIANE LAZARUS On 06-18-95

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