Cooking

All About Onions

Onions

We use onions in just about everything savoury that we cook and eat. If you have ever wondered what type of onion to use or why a certain variety of onion was used in a recipe, you are not alone. We can help! Learn all about onions, from selecting, cooking and storing, to tips on cutting to avoid those unwanted tears.

  • What onion should I use?

    When shopping for onions, you have plenty of choices available at the supermarket. Each onion has its own purpose in the kitchen, and knowing the difference is important if you find yourself with a recipe that calls for one type when you only have the other type in the pantry.

    Choose bulbs that are firm and dry with a brittle, papery skin, free of mould and sprouts. 

    Learn more about how to choose onions or leeks here:

     

  • No more tears!

    When onions are cut, compounds are released that form an irritating gas causing our eyes to tear.  Here are some tips to keep those tears in check: 

    • Ensure your knife is sharp! A clean-cut through the onion cells help reduce the release of irritating gas. 
    • Cut onion from the stem end, keeping the root end intact. Cut root end last or discard the last 1/4 altogether. The irritating compounds concentrate the most on the root. 
      • Learn how to properly dice an onion here.
    • Lowering the temperature of onions can help reduce irritation. Place in the fridge for 30 min or in the freezer for 10, although this method may alter the flavour. 
    • Chop or slice using a food processor or manual chopper. 
    • If all else fails, wear goggles! 
  • Storage

    Store in a cool, dark, dry area. Do not store in plastic. Onions need well-circulated air for longest storage and may keep for 30 – 60 days 

    • Sweet onions or varieties with higher water content should be stored in the fridge. 
    • Peeled onions should be kept in the fridge 
    • Chopped or sliced onions can be sealed well and stored in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. Freezing is not recommended except in cooked dishes. Blanching and freezing result in a poor texture and a very strong odour in the freezer. 

     

    For containing onion aroma, see our Containing Strong Smells page here.

     

  • How many cups is an onion?

    If you’ve ever encountered a recipe that called for “1 medium onion, diced,” you’ve probably wondered what that meant, exactly. 

    Learn more here:

  • Caramelized onions

    General directions:

    • For every 2 cups of sliced onions, melt 1 tbsp butter in a large nonstick frypan over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly golden, about 25 – 30 minutes.

Try These:

  • Medium
    Classic French Onion Soup
  • Easy
    Walla Walla Woses
  • Easy
    Onion Slaw
  • Medium
    Refrigerator Ice Cream Pail Pickles