Onions, an Ancient Ingredient With Many Uses!

Mon, May 10, 2010


Onions, an Ancient Ingredient With Many Uses!

We use it in every part of the world in a number of different ways, but how much do we really know about the onion? Related to the lily, this bulb is healthy, flavorful and comes in a few different varieties. Onions are also beautiful to look at and can give both color and texture to an otherwise bland looking dish!

When the onion was first used isn’t for sure, but it is certain that it’s been around since before 5000 BC. If looking at some of the archeological evidence, it’s thought that they were cultivated in Egypt along side leeks and garlic.

Onions were even worshiped in ancient Egypt based on the belief that the roundness of and rings within the onion symbolized eternal life, and were used in Egyptian burials. Athletes in ancient Greece ate large amounts of onions, as it was thought that it would “lighten the balance of blood”. Roman gladiators were rubbed down with onions to firm up their muscles. Onions were used to pay rent and given as gifts in the Middle Ages, because they were so important.

As for true medicinal and health properties, even though not proven to be of help, onions have been used for the treatment of colds, asthma, coughs, bacterial infections, and is thought to have antiseptic features. It’s also thought that they can help with health issues such as osteoporosis, diabetes and believe to have  anti-inflammatory, cholesterol lowering and cancer preventing attributes. The chemical compounds that are believed to help with these ailments are also what gives the onion it’s flavor, smell, and what causes your eyes to burn and water when cut open.

If the burn and watering of eyes when cutting onions prevents you from using the onion more frequently, it can be helped. Rinsing the onion periodically during while preparing an onion can prevent the gas that is released from reaching the eyes. Chilling an onion  in a freezer before cutting also can reduce eye irritation. Also leaving the root end on the onion is thought to help with this. Of course there are goggles that can be used or using a fan to blow the fumes away from the face will work as well while cutting onions.

There are more uses for onions than most vegetables. They can be  caramelized, pickled, powdered, dehydrated and are used fresh, frozen, cooked, boiled. They are great in sauces, soups, in breads,  on salads, with cheese, in curries, as a spice, or as an aromatic. Onions, or a variety of, are basically used in every kind of cuisine now days.

There are so many ways and reasons to use onions, that it seems like they should be in every household all year round. When you next use onions to cook with think of this quote:

“The onion and its satin wrappings is among the most beautiful of vegetables and is the only one that represents the essence of things. It can be said to have a soul.”
– Charles Dudley Warner, My Summer in a Garden (1871)

Photo by sleepyneko

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This post was written by:

Rochelle - who has written 223 posts on Made in Kitchen Blog.

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One Response to “Onions, an Ancient Ingredient With Many Uses!”

  1. Summer Says:

    Love dat pic!!
    And loved this post too…cool!

    YEah d freezer sure is an amazing pal wen it come to onions!

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