Guide to Onions

September 14, 2020
| Created by Genevieve Daly, RDN, CD

The allium (aka onion) family has become popular over the years due to its famous cancer-fighting properties. Here’s a quick guide on how to use the different onions you’ll find here at Harmons.

Shopping Tip:

Choose firm, dry onions with shiny skins. Avoid soft, discolored onions as that means they’re typically less fresh. Fresh onions can last over a month if stored appropriately in a cool, dark, dry place.

Yellow Onion—The Go-To Onion

Making up approximately 90% of the U.S. onion crop, yellow onions are an extremely popular choice for everyday cooking. Yellow onions have a stronger flavor due to their higher sulfur content, making them ideal for sautéing, caramelizing, and roasting.

Cooking tip: When caramelizing onions, adding small amounts of water during the cooking period can allow you to cook your onions at a higher temperature without risk of burning the onions.

White Onion—Slightly Sweeter, Cleaner Flavor than Yellow Onions

Often used as an alternative to yellow onions in cooking, but most frequently eaten raw in Latin-based cuisines, such as salsas and guacamoles.

Cooking tip: White onions tend to have a shorter shelf-life than yellow onions. If you’re not planning on using it anytime soon, try dicing and freezing them for later use.

Red Onion—Somewhat Sweet and Relatively Mild

The magenta color of a red onion makes it a gorgeous addition to salads, burgers or salsas. Due to their mild flavor, red onion is generally used in raw applications.

Cooking tip: If the flavor is still too strong for you, try soaking the onion in cold water before using. The water will help dissipate the sulfurous compounds.

Sweet Onion—Among the mildest of onions

A larger, sweeter version of a yellow onion, sweet onions are popular choices for onion rings, relish, and onion jam.

Cooking tip: Cook these onions on low heat for about 45-60 minutes for delicious jammy onions.