Dry Onions and Shallots
Dry onions (also called bulb onions or common onions or just plain onions) are often separated into two categories: storage onions and sweet onions. Storage onions are more pungent and flavorful than sweet onions, and they're best if cooked before eating. They also store well and so are available year-round. Sweet onions have a lower sulfur content are usually served raw or lightly cooked. They're easiest to find from April to August.
Shallots have a more delicate, less pungent flavor, and are often diced into dressings and sauces, or sautéed or roasted.
Onions and shallots should be firm and heavy for their size. Avoid onions that have sprouted or that have an odor, or that have green or moldy blemishes.
If you're prone to crying while cutting onions, try chilling them first, then peeling them under running water. Always cook onions over low or medium heat, since they become bitter when cooked at high temperatures.
Store them in a cool, dry place (not in the refrigerator).
To find substitutions for onions in general, click here.