Onion


Onion -

A common garden vegetable, of the lily family, cultivated in great variety and supplied to the markets nearly all the year round. It is a native of Turkey in Asia, but it has been an article of diet in various countries for a great many centuries, and is now grown in nearly every part of the world - in particularly large quantities in Germany, Spain, parts of Africa and parts of the United States. In quantity, it stands third among the "truck" crops of the United States, the most important states being Texas, Ohio, Western New York and Connecticut.

Among the principal varieties are the White or Silver-skinned, Yellow and Red - all with various names according to their size, shape, season and flavor. The different colors are, alone, no gauge of quality - there are all grades in each color and the choice is almost entirely one of individual preference. The demand varies in different localities and changes from time to time - one section will for a long time give the preference to Yellow, then popularity will veer to White, etc. Local taste is the only correct guide for the merchant on this point.

The strong smell and flavor of the Onion is due to a pungent volatile oil, rich in sulphur. When grown in warm places, it is generally milder and sweeter than the more northern product. Those of moderate size contain about 91% of water.

The earliest shipments to this country are from Bermuda - which was at one time almost equally famous for Easter lilies and onions - but which is in the latter respect diminishing in importance as the result of the development of the industry in the South - particularly in Texas. The importations of the famous Spanish onions are, on the other hand, increasing yearly in volume, and Spain is now the largest individual exporter to this country - the United Kingdom, Bermuda and Egypt occupying the next most important positions.

The domestic crop is always shipped in gunny sacks, holding about two bushels, or in wooden boxes - never in bulk.

Many people make a mistake in storing onions. They need to be kept dry instead of damp, and consequently an airy place is the best for them - though, for the same reason, on foggy days all windows should be kept closed. Open crates of lath, such as are used to ship potatoes, make good receptacles, as they afford ventilation and keep the onions from lying in a deep mass. When many are piled together, they are liable to sweat, grow and induce rot. A temperature of 34° to 40° Fahr. is best. Curing in the sun for several days should precede placing in the cellar.

Care should be taken to avoid bruising, and damaged specimens should be promptly removed. When possible, it is a good idea to turn the stock over occasionally. If one has bought largely to take advantage of market rises, it is well to leave the tops on until it is time to make ready for market, as they tend to protect against bruising and the consequent liability to rot. When removing the tops, it is also advisable to avoid cutting too close to the bulbs.

The uses of onions are many and varied. In this country, the fresh vegetable is cooked in every imaginable way, and there is a large sale of small onions pickled in numerous styles. Increasing in popularity also is Onion Essence or Sauce, in bottles, for flavoring soups, etc. In Europe, the laboring classes eat onions raw as we eat apples.

A good idea for the housewife, is to keep a knife with a different-colored handle for peeling and cutting onions. Then there is no danger of its being used for, and carrying the flavor into, other articles. The color signal proves an effective deterrent!


Arround Onion in The Grocer's Encyclopedia


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