Onions are a staple in our shares, as well as in almost every country's food culture throughout the world. Storage onions are harvested in late August and cured, to be given out throughout the rest of the season. We grow several varieties, both red and yellow.
Onions are necessary in such a variety of different recipes and foods; it is really up to you how to use them. They are necessary for many soups, stews, sauces, stir-fries, salsas, and casseroles. They are great on their own, caramelized, boiled, or steamed. They can be eaten raw on a salad or sandwich, and red onion's flavor particularly lends itself to these uses. Sulfur released in onions will make you cry when you cut them if you're not careful. Burning a candle near the cutting board or refrigerating the onion beforehand will help, or you can cut the onion under running water.
Whole onions are best kept in a cool, dark part of the kitchen, where they will last for many weeks. Leftover pieces of onion can be stored in the refrigerator for several days, in an airtight container so as not to contaminate other foods with the smell they release, and to keep them from drying out.
Onions are believed to ward off colds, fight heart disease and diabetes, lower cholesterol and help prevent osteoporosis. The flavonoid quercetin contributes significantly to these effects, plus they are high in other antioxidants. Their medicinal effects will be best if you enjoy your onions raw or lightly cooked.
Onions are in the lily family, along with garlic, leeks, and shallots, and are one of the oldest crops cultivated by humans. Most of our cultivated varieties originated in West Asia, but other onion varieties were native to the Americas, where they were eaten by Native Americans. Onions were extremely important in ancient Egypt, where they were endowed with religious qualities. Onions were often placed in Egyptian tombs, where it was believed that their smell would bring back the dead.
Our storage onions are started from seed in the greenhouse at the end of January and planted out in the field in the spring. In late August we harvest all the onions and bring them into the barn, curing as many as we have room for on drying racks, and soon begin the daunting task of cleaning and counting all of our onions for the year. It is well worth it, though, for in the cold months to come we are rewarded with a supply of delicious onions to eat.