Of all the vegetables on this planet, the onion may be the most widely acclaimed of them all, being of precious dietary significance as far back as 5000 BC to being just as important to this day. Belonging to the allium family, a cousin to other household favorites such as garlic and shallots, it is estimated that over 9,000,000 acres of onions are grown annually, far exceeding any of its relatives.
Onions are denoted by their pungent flavor, dry papery outer skin, and their indistinguishable layered and bulbous body. Though a variety of wild and domesticated types of onions exist, yellow onions are the most commonly produced today, followed by red and white onions, each maintaining their own unique taste profile and culinary use.
While the vast and flavorful culinary uses for onions are undeniable, being used raw, sautéed, pickled or baked, they provide outstanding health benefits as well. Onions are high in vitamin C and an excellent source of dietary fiber and folic acid. They also contain a unique antioxidant compound called, quercetin. Quercetin has been shown to help eliminate free radicals that cause cell damage which can lead to cancer, as well as serve as protection from heart disease.
At the Fort Collins Food Co-op we carry yellow and red onions year-round, as well as do our best to provide local onions from neighboring farms such as Fossil Creek Farms and Native Hill Farm during the later summer months and into the autumn season. Don’t forget to try the infamous onions’ cousins too, such the mild and beautiful shallot or hard-neck purple garlic from Sunspot Urban Farm grown just a mile away.
Want to try something new? How about making your own caramelized onions to add a little gourmet to your home-cooked meals.
Prep time: 10 mins Cook time: 45 mins
Yields about 1 cup of caramelized onions
2 medium onions (yellow, white or red based on preference)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Cut onions in half and slice thinly
- Melt butter in medium frying pan over low-medium heat until foaming
- Add onions evenly over pan and allow to cook slowly, stirring occasionally until golden brown. (about 45 minutes) If sticking or burning starts to occur, lower the heat.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool
- Enjoy on top of sandwiches, meats or pizza, topped on soups, or on its own!
The trick is to let them cook slowly, allowing the sugars to come out naturally.