Onions

Onions

There are two broad categories of onions: dry onions (which include shallots) and their milder cousins, green onions.


Varieties:

Bermuda onion
Bermuda onion
These bulb-shaped onions have a sweet mild flavor. They're available in the spring.
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boiling onion, boiler, boiler onion
boiling onion
These are small versions of yellow, white, or red onions. They're up to two inches in diameter, and usually cooked whole.
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calcot, green onion
calcot
This is a large, Spanish variety of green onion.
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cipollini onion, Borettana onion, cippolini onion
cipollini onion
These round, flat Italian onions are about one to two inches in diameter. They're available in the fall.
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green onion, bunching onion, cebollitas, Chinese onion, cibol, scallion
green onion
These are onions that have small bulbs and long green stalks. They're usually eaten raw, but you can also grill or sauté them. Some people also use the term green onions to refer to onion tops, shallot tops and young leeks.
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leek
leek
Leeks look like large green onions, and they have a more complex onion flavor. They're often cooked as a vegetable side dish, or used in soups. Be sure to wash them thoroughly before cooking as the leaves are notorious for collecting dirt.
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onion flakes, dehydrated onion flakes, dried minced onion
onion flakes
These are onions that have been chopped and then dehydrated. They lack much of the pungency of fresh onions, but they're convenient and great for backpacking.
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onion powder
onion powder
Onion powder isn't as pungent as fresh onions, but it's a great time-saver.
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pearl onion, baby onions, button onions, silverskin onions
pearl onion
These tiny onions are sweet and mild. About one inch in diameter, they're often pickled or creamed.
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ramps, Chicago leek, narrow-leaf ramps, ramp, ramson, Tennessee truffle
ramps
These have a strong onion-garlic flavor which tends to linger on the breath. Despite their humble Appalachian origins, ramps tend to be pricey and are usually found in gourmet produce markets. They're available from March to June.
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red onion, creole onion, Italian red onion, red torpedo onion
red onion
These are sweet enough to eat raw, and they're often used to add color to salads. They're also excellent grilled or lightly cooked. Varieties include the sweet red Italian onion, Italian red onion, creole onion, and red torpedo onion.
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shallot, French gray shallot, French red shallot, Persian shallot
shallot
Australians use the term shallots to describe green onions, but to Americans, shallots are shaped like small brown onions with papery brown skins. They have a more delicate, garlicky flavor than other cooking onions, and are a common ingredient in French sauces. Many people find them too hot to eat raw. They're available year-round.
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Spanish onion
Spanish onion
These are similar to yellow onions, only larger and a bit sweeter.
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spring onion
spring onion
Some people use the name spring onion as a synonym for green onion, while others use it to refer to a green onion with a partially formed bulb.
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storage onion, fall onion
storage onion
These onions are available year-round, since their low water content prevents molding during storage. Since storage makes onions more pungent, these onions are usually cooked before eating. This category includes the yellow onion, white onion, red onion, Spanish onion, and Bermuda onion.
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sweet onion, Arizona, Carzalia Sweet, fresh onion, Granex, Maui, Oso Sweet
sweet onion
These onions are mild and crisp, so they're the onions of choice for slicing raw on burgers and sandwiches. They can be lightly cooked, too, though they're not as pungent and flavorful as storage onions. There are several different varieties, often named after the region in which they're grown. The most popular include Vidalia, Walla Walla, Sweet Imperial, Texas Spring Sweet, Texas 1015Y, Carzalia Sweet, Oso Sweet, Arizona, Granex, and Maui. They're usually available from March through August, though some producers extend the season by storing them in a low-oxygen environment. Sweet onions are usually larger than storage onions. They also have a higher water content, so they don't keep as well.
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white onion
white onion
These popular cooking onions are often called for in Hispanic dishes, since they have a cleaner, more tangy flavor than yellow onions. They're slightly more prone to mold than yellow onions, so store them in a dry, well-ventilated place.
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yellow onion, yellow globe onion, yellow storage onion
yellow onion
This is what most cooks reach for when a recipe simply calls for "onion." It's higher in sulfur than the white onion, so it has a more complex flavor. The sulfur, unfortunately, is also what makes you cry when you cut into it. Yellow onions turn a rich brown and become sweeter and milder when cooked. Many people find them too pungent to eat raw.
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