ingredient information
Allium Cepa
AAA
The onion (Allium cepa), which is also known as the bulb onion,[1] common onion[2] and garden onion,[citation needed] is the most widely cultivated species of the genus Allium.[3] The genus Allium also contains a number of other species variously referred to as onions and cultivated for food, such as the Japanese bunching onion (A. fistulosum), Egyptian onion (A. ×proliferum), and Canada onion (A. canadense).[2] The name "wild onion" is applied to a number of Allium species. The vast majority of cultivars of A. cepa belong to the 'common onion group' (A. cepa var. cepa) and are usually referred to simply as 'onions'. The 'Aggregatum Group' of cultivars (A. cepa var. aggregatum) includes both shallots and potato onions.[4] Allium cepa is known only in cultivation,[5] but related wild species occur in Central Asia. The most closely related species include Allium vavilovii (Popov & Vved.) and Allium asarense (R.M. Fritsch & Matin) from Iran.[6] However, Zohary and Hopf warn that "there are doubts whether the A. vavilovii collections tested represent genuine wild material or only feral derivatives of the crop."[7] Contents [hide] 1 Uses of an onion 1.1 Culinary uses 1.1.1 Onion types and products 1.2 Non-culinary uses 1.3 Historical uses 2 Medicinal properties and health effects of onions 3 Eye irritation 4 Propagation 5 Varieties 5.1 Common onion group (var. cepa) 5.1.1 European onions 5.2 Aggregatum Group (var. aggregatum) 5.3 Species that may be confused with A. cepa 5.3.1 Hybrids with A. cepa parentage 5.3.1.1 Diploid hybrids 5.3.1.2 Triploid onions 6 Storage 7 Production trends 8 Pictures 9 See also 10 Notes 11 References 12 External links [edit] Uses of an onion[edit] Culinary usesOnions are often chopped and used an ingredient in various hearty warm dishes, but are often used as a main ingredient in their own right, for example in French onion soup or onion chutney. They are also used raw in cold salads. Onions pickled in vinegar are eaten as a snack. These are often served as a side serving in fish and chip shops throughout the United Kingdom and Australia, often served with cheese in the United Kingdom, and as "pickled onions" in Eastern Europe. [edit] Onion types and productsCommon onions are normally available in three colors: yellow, red, and white. Yellow onions are full-flavored and are a reliable standby for cooking almost anything. Yellow onions turn a rich, dark brown when cooked and give French onion soup its tangy sweet flavor. The red onion is a good choice for fresh uses or in grilling and char-broiling. White onions are the traditional onion used in classic Mexican cuisine. They have a golden color and sweet flavor when sautéed. While the large mature onion bulb is the onion most often eaten, onions can be eaten at immature stages. Young plants may be harvested before bulbing occurs and used whole as scallions.[8] When an onion is harvested after bulbing has begun but the onion is not yet mature, the plants are sometimes referred to as summer onions.[9] Additionally, onions may be bred and grown to mature at smaller sizes. Depending on the mature size and the purpose for which the onion is used, these may be referred to as pearl, boiler, or pickler onions.[9] (However, true pearl onions are a different species.) Pearl and boiler onions may be cooked as a vegetable rather than an ingredient. Pickler onions are, unsurprisingly, often pickled. Onion seed may be "sprouted", and the resulting sprouts used in salads, sandwiches, and other dishes. (See sprouting.) Onions are available in fresh, frozen, canned, caramelized, pickled, powdered, chopped, and dehydrated forms. Onion powder is a spice used for seasoning in cooking. It is made from finely ground, dehydrated onions, mainly the pungent varieties of bulb onions, which causes the powder to have a very strong odor. Onion powder comes in a few varieties: white, yellow, red and toasted. Wikibooks Cookbook has a recipe/module on Onion powder [edit] Non-culinary usesOnions have particularly large cells that are readily observed at low magnification; consequently, onion tissue is frequently used in science education for demonstrating microscope usage.[10] Onion skins have been used for dye. [11] [edit] Historical usesBulbs from the onion family are thought to have been used as a food source for millennia. In Bronze Age settlements, traces of onion remains were found alongside fig and date stones dating back to 5000 BC.[12] However, it is not clear if these were cultivated onions. Archaeological and literary evidence such as the Book of Numbers 11:5 suggests cultivation probably took place around two thousand years later in ancient Egypt, at the same time that leeks and garlic were cultivated. Workers who built the Egyptian pyramids may have been fed radishes and onions.[12] The onion is easily propagated, transported and stored. The ancient Egyptians worshipped it,[13] believing its spherical shape and concentric rings symbolized eternal life. Onions were even used in Egyptian burials, as evidenced by onion traces being found in the eye sockets of Ramesses IV. In ancient Greece, athletes ate large quantities of onion because it was believed to lighten the balance of blood. Roman gladiators were rubbed down with onion to firm up their muscles. In the Middle Ages, onions were such an important food that people would pay their rent with onions, and even give them as gifts.[13] Doctors were known to prescribe onions to facilitate bowel movements and erections, and also to relieve headaches, coughs, snakebite and hair loss. The cultivated onion was introduced to North America by Christopher Columbus on his 1492 expedition to Hispaniola; however, they found that strains of wild onions already grew throughout North America. Native American Indians used wild onions in a variety of ways, eating them raw or cooked, as a seasoning or as a vegetable. Such onions were also used in syrups, as poultices, as an ingredient in dyes and even as toys. According to diaries of colonists, bulb onions were planted as soon as the Pilgrim fathers could clear the land in 1648.[13] Onions were also prescribed by doctors in the early 16th century to help with infertility in women, and even dogs, cats and cattle and many other household pets. However, recent evidence has shown that dogs, cats, guinea pigs, and other animals should not be given onions in any form, due to toxicity during digestion.[14][15][16] [edit] Medicinal properties and health effects of onionsRaw Onions Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz) Energy 166 kJ (40 kcal) Carbohydrates 9.34 g - Sugars 4.24 g - Dietary fiber 1.7 g Fat 0.1 g - saturated 0.042 g - monounsaturated 0.013 g - polyunsaturated 0.017 g Protein 1.1 g Water 89.11 g Vitamin A equiv. 0 µg (0%) Thiamine (vit. B1) 0.046 mg (4%) Riboflavin (vit. B2) 0.027 mg (2%) Niacin (vit. B3) 0.116 mg (1%) Vitamin B6 0.12 mg (9%) Folate (vit. B9) 19 µg (5%) Vitamin B12 0 µg (0%) Vitamin C 7.4 mg (9%) Vitamin E 0.02 mg (0%) Vitamin K 0.4 µg (0%) Calcium 23 mg (2%) Iron 0.21 mg (2%) Magnesium 0.129 mg (0%) Phosphorus 29 mg (4%) Potassium 146 mg (3%) Sodium 4 mg (0%) Zinc 0.17 mg (2%) Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults. Source: USDA Nutrient Database Wide-ranging claims have been made for the effectiveness of onions against conditions ranging from the common cold to heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and other diseases.[17] They contain chemical compounds believed to have anti-inflammatory, anticholesterol, anticancer, and antioxidant properties, such as quercetin. Preliminary studies have shown increased consumption of onions reduces the risk of head and neck cancers.[18] Among all varieties, Asian white onions have the most eye irritating chemical reaction. In India some sects do not eat onions as they believe them to be an aphrodisiac;[19] various schools of Buddhism also advise against eating onions and other vegetables of the Allium family. [20] In many parts of the undeveloped world, onions are used to heal blisters and boils. A traditional Maltese remedy for sea urchin wounds is to tie half a baked onion to the afflicted area overnight. A similar traditional cure is known in Bulgaria. Half-baked onion with sugar is placed over the finger and fingernail in case of inflammation. An application of raw onion is also said to be helpful in reducing swelling from bee stings. In the United States, products that contain onion extract are used in the treatment of topical scars; some studies have found their action to be ineffective,[21][22][23] while others found that they may act as an anti-inflammatory or bacteriostatic[24] and can improve collagen organization in rabbits.[25] Onions may be beneficial for women,[26] who are at increased risk for osteoporosis as they go through menopause, by destroying osteoclasts so they do not break down bone. An American chemist has stated[27] the pleiomeric chemicals in onions have the potential to alleviate or prevent sore throat. Onion in combination with jaggery has been widely used as a traditional household remedy for sore throat in India. Shallots have the most phenols, six times the amount found in Vidalia onion, the variety with the lowest phenolic content. Shallots also have the most antioxidant activity, followed by Western Yellow, pungent yellow (New York Bold),[28] Northern Red, Mexico, Empire Sweet, Western White, Peruvian Sweet, Texas 1015, Imperial Valley Sweet, and Vidalia. Western Yellow onions have the most flavonoids, eleven times the amount found in Western White, the variety with the lowest flavonoid content. For all varieties of onions, the more phenols and flavonoids they contain, the more reputed antioxidant and anticancer activity they provide. When tested against liver and colon cancer cells in laboratory studies, 'Western Yellow', pungent yellow (New York Bold)[28] and shallots were most effective in inhibiting their growth. The milder-tasting cultivars (i.e., 'Western White,' 'Peruvian Sweet,' 'Empire Sweet,' 'Mexico,' 'Texas 1015,' 'Imperial Valley Sweet' and 'Vidalia') showed little cancer-fighting ability.[28] Shallots and ten other onion (Allium cepa L.) varieties commonly available in the United States were evaluated: Western Yellow, Northern Red, pungent yellow (New York Bold), Western White, Peruvian Sweet, Empire Sweet, Mexico, Texas 1015, Imperial Valley Sweet, and Vidalia. In general, the most pungent onions delivered many times the effects of their milder cousins.[28] The 3-mercapto-2-methylpentan-1-ol in onion was found to inhibit peroxynitrite-induced mechanisms in vitro.[29] While members of the onion family appear to have medicinal properties for humans, they can be deadly for dogs, cats, and guinea pigs.[14][15][16] [edit] Eye irritation When an onion is cut, certain compounds are released causing the lachrymal glands in the eyes to become irritated, releasing tears.As onions are sliced or eaten, cells are broken, allowing enzymes called alliinases to break down amino acid sulphoxides and generate sulphenic acids. A specific sulfenic acid, 1-propenesulfenic acid, formed when onions are cut, is rapidly rearranged by a second enzyme, called the lachrymatory factor synthase or LFS, giving syn-propanethial-S-oxide, a volatile gas known as the onion lachrymatory factor or LF.[30] The LF gas diffuses through the air and eventually reaches the eye, where it activates sensory neurons, creating a stinging sensation. Tear glands produce tears to dilute and flush out the irritant.[31] Chemicals that exhibit such an effect on the eyes are known as lachrymatory agents. Supplying ample water to the reaction while peeling onions prevents the gas from reaching the eyes. Eye irritation can, therefore, be avoided by cutting onions under running water or submerged in a basin of water.[31] Another way to reduce irritation is by chilling, or by not cutting off the root of the onion (or by doing it last), as the root of the onion has a higher concentration of enzymes.[32] Using a sharp blade to chop onions will limit the cell damage and the release of enzymes that drive the irritation response. Chilling or freezing onions prevents the enzymes from activating, limiting the amount of gas generated. Eye irritation can also be avoided by having a fan blow the gas away from the eyes, or by wearing goggles or any eye protection that creates a seal around the eye. Contact lens wearers may also experience less immediate irritation as a result of the slight protection afforded by the lenses themselves.[citation needed] The amount of sulfenic acids and LF released and the irritation effect differs among Allium species. On January 31, 2008, the New Zealand Crop and Food institute created a strain of "no tears" onions by using gene-silencing biotechnology to prevent synthesis by the onions of the lachrymatory factor synthase enzyme.[33] [edit] Propagation Onion and shallot output in 2005 Onion growing shootsOnions may be grown from seed or, more commonly today, from sets started from seed the previous year. Onion sets are produced by sowing seed very thickly one year, resulting in stunted plants that produce very small bulbs. These bulbs are very easy to set out and grow into mature bulbs the following year, but they have the reputation of producing a less durable bulb than onions grown directly from seed and thinned. Seed-bearing onions are day-length sensitive; their bulbs begin growing only after the number of daylight hours has surpassed some minimal quantity. Most traditional European onions are what is referred to as "long-day" onions, producing bulbs only after 15+ hours of daylight occur. Southern European and North African varieties are often known as "intermediate day" types, requiring only 12–13 hours of daylight to stimulate bulb formation. Finally, "short-day" onions, which have been developed in more recent times, are planted in mild-winter areas in the fall and form bulbs in the early spring, and require only 9–10 hours of sunlight to stimulate bulb formation. Either planting method may be used to produce spring onions or green onions, which are the leaves of immature plants. Green onion is a name also used to refer to another species, Allium fistulosum, the Welsh onion, which does not form bulbs. The tree onion produces bulblets instead of flowers and seeds, which can be planted directly in the ground. I'itoi onion (Allium cepa) is a prolific multiplier onion cultivated near Baboquiviri, Arizona. They have a shallot-like flavor. They are easy to grow and ideal for hot, dry climates. To grow them, separate bulbs, and plant in the fall 1 inch below surface and 12 inches apart. Bulbs will multiply into clumps and can be harvested throughout the cooler months. Tops will die back in the heat of summer and may return with monsoon rains; bulbs can remain in the ground or be harvested and stored in a cool dry place for planting in the fall. The plants rarely flower; propagation is by division. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onion