Onion Beauty from Bulb to Blossom

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Several months ago the NY Times ran an article looking at the actual nutritional value of current day vegetation as compared to generations, let alone millennia, prior. It was not surprising that the results were sobering. But it was surprising just how much nutritional value has been lost in the quest to grow easier, more productive crops. Onions stood out as a crop that had changed little over time. The whole Alliums’ family not only stayed genetically true but also ranked across the board as good food, even Fox news ran a clip in 2012 highlighting the health virtues of eating onions every day. Evidence shows that as far back as the Bronze Age (3300-1200 BC) people were using onions in their meals. Onions contain valued phenolics and flavonoids that do all the anti-things we want: anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-cholesterol and antioxidant. Red wine and green teas are playing catch up in the virtues department. Plus onions make every dish yummier!red onion

In recent years my sweetie, a gardening master, has dedicated more space to onion crops. This past weekend I took on the task of harvesting shopping bag after shopping bag of yellow, red and white onions to store for the winter months. (The green onions are grown for more immediate eating in the spring.) My chore load around our urban homestead is pretty low and often renegotiated downward. So when there is a task that I can conquer completely, I am mighty pleased. Our onion plot is actually a block away in a community garden where Mike is also growing this year’s carrots, tomatoes and basil. As the onions complete their growing cycle, the space is needed for the purple winter cabbage.photo

Being modestly one armed right now as the result of a fall last week I was limited to transporting one load of onions at a time. They start out taking up a lot of space because they are messy with their browned tops, multiple outer layers littering with every touch and roots holding on to what dirt they can. But as I chopped off the tops, trimmed their roots and flaked off excessive skin and dirt, the onion globes emerged glowing like gems. Mike and I were feeling mighty impressed with our wealth as they cured first in the sun and then in the shade as they make their way to storage in the dark, cool basement.We have 7 boxes of such gems!

Here are a few acquired eating tips. The more you include outer layers of the onion in your cooking, the better – they host the densest quantity of good stuff. If you are using green stalks, chop as much of the length into your dish as possible – the length only increases in nutritional value. Ideally, cut your onions 30 minutes prior to using them, which gives them full time to release their bounty. While adding your onions galore, don’t share the fresh or cooked dishes with pets. Neither mushrooms nor onions are supposed to be good for our four legged friends. And remember that onion blossoms not only cook up well, they can be added to any vase to make an even lovelier bouquet.Onion Flower Head

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4 responses »

  1. Good tips! We love onions, although I haven’t had much luck growing them in our clay soil, and I’m too lazy to add the amendments necessary. But I’m guessing we pretty much eat onions every day and have for years. I’m going to have to dig out my recipe for barley stuffed onions…

  2. So beautiful these onions, like my friends Marcy and Mike.
    I sent your essay and photos to our local farmers and healers. thanks for the teachings, especially as I was told to drop the onions and stay with the garlic which I eat with everything incl pb&j though not with chocolate . Now I’m wondering why.

  3. Who knew? Well, I guess I do now, thanks to you. Loved the photos of your incredibly healthy and bountiful onion crop, and the story of your part in harvesting them. Mike certainly is a master gardener!

    I returned this week from a heavenly time in MN with Steph and Janice– although most of it was spent on Stout’s Island, in Red Cedar Lake in mid-WI. Check out Stout Island Lodge website sometime for a taste of this Adirondack-style lodge (and cabins) scattered on a 30-acre (or so) island–you feel truly cut off from the noisy, impinging world. Our cabin had one main room and a screened-in sleeping porch, and a bathroom the size of our early apartments on Oak Grove St. (We took a late Sunday night drive around the old ‘hood for old times sake–it looked exactly the same except for two new big honking apartment buildings.) We toted our own wine and cheese and played Quiddler and Bananagrams and talked incessantly.

    While I was gone Doug constructed the first of our raised planters in that little side yard where citrus trees used to be. It’s about two feet in depth and will house our winter crop of lettuce, carrots, cucumbers and snap peas. Maybe we should add onions to the mix?

    Enjoy your heavenly summer veg! We sure did, in that yummy scramble.

    Love, Susan

  4. how beautiful your harvest, plus thanks for all the hints. Florence and 2 old friends from AR were here last week-tons of talking and laughter. House feels so lonely with them gone. Florence left me with a lovely poem to share with book group next week. I fell last week too and still sore. Hope you are ok-sure is hard on confidence! You might want to check my friend’s web site as she has this incredible home that her Mother designed plus plans to build a tee pee that she gave birth in lived for 6 years. It is bettyblackwood.org. love to you both, Marji

    On Wed, Aug 21, 2013 at 9:07 AM, livingly dying wrote:

    > ** > marcy westerling posted: “Several months ago the NY Times ran an > article looking at the actual nutritional value of current day vegetation > as compared to generations, let alone millennia, prior. It was not > surprising that the results were sobering. But it was surprising just how > m”

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