When I bought myself a new cookbook containing recipes from around the world, I never thought I will come across names of so many unheard vegetables and ingredients. What surprised me the most was the different onion varieties mentioned in the list of ingredients under different recipes. I never knew there were so many types available in the world. All I knew was about big red onions, spring onions and leeks. I am sure you too must have come across names that you were previously unheard of. I shall enlist a few of these types.
Onions are used to enhance the flavors of food cooked. The magic bulbs are divided into green onions and dry onions. The sweet ones are those that are produced during spring and summer. The ones used for storage are the onion varieties produced in fall or winter. These spring/summer and fall/winter varieties are placed under the dry onion categories. The green ones are used for making soups, salads, baked potatoes, etc. They are quite tender and green and therefore easy to chop and used as toppings. One often gets confused between green onions and scallions. They are in fact, two different types.
When it comes to storage onions, they usually include the boiling onions, Spanish onions and the red onions. You can store these all year round, which is why the name. They have less water and sugar content and this makes them better choice for recipes that require one to cook them long, or for simmering. The dry onions are white, yellow or red in color. The spring/summer varieties have short shelf life, thus, not good for storage. The Vidalia onion is the common sweet onion variety. Other sweet varieties include the Walla Walla, Spring onions and sweet Imperial onions.
Also called pearl onions they are small-sized varieties. These can be distinguished from bulb onions due to their simple storage leaf. They are sweeter than bulb onion and used to make American casserole like succotash.
This is a sweet onion that is not very pungent when compared to other varieties. It is a big onion that has white flesh and a mild flavor.
Boiling onions are storage onion varieties. They have a very thin skin. This makes them a favorite ingredient in stew recipes.
Cipollini are small onions and the name is derived from Cipolla, Italian for onion. They have a very rich and sweet taste. They tend to be as small as a ping-pong ball and have a flat top. They are used in baking dishes such as roast chicken, etc. due to the high sugar content in them.
Also known as top onions, walking onions or onions, these are a cluster of bulblets. They have a strong flavor and have a tough skin. They are elongated in shape and look similar to leeks and scallions.
Green onions are small varieties that are harvested when the shoots are still green. They are often confused with scallions. These are used as toppings for many dishes.
Mild flavored and pale green in color, leeks are a type of white onions. The stalk or stem of leeks is also edible. These can be eaten raw or used in leek soup. Leeks are never boiled, but fried. This is because boiling makes them too soft.
The red onion is also called purple onion, because of the shades of purple on its skin. These are mild and sweet in flavor. They are really big in size and eaten with salads or added to different home recipes.
The sweet cousin of an onion is shallot. The shallot has a mild flavor and therefore should not be substituted in recipes that distinctly ask for shallots.
Southport Red Globe
These are large onions that have a glossy purple-red skin. The flesh has a pinkish purple ting and pungent flavored.
These are storage varieties that come in yellow, white and red colors. Each variety has a distinct taste and flavor.
They are also known as fresh onions or summer onions. They come in three different varieties red, yellow and white. They are very thin-skinned and light in color. They have high water and sugar content. They are usually used for salads and recipes where one needs to cook the onions lightly.
These are those that have a white skin. They have a strong flavored flesh that is usually used in Mexican recipes. These can be sautéed to a deep brown color. They are great to be used in recipes that require a sweet and sour flavor.
These are the most common variety of onions. They are also known as brown onions in Europe. They have a pungent flavor and used in a variety of cuisines.
These were some of the different types. The next time you visit a market, you will surely be able to differentiate between the varieties sold.