So the kid called me with an onion question and I answered her to the best of my ability but now I am curious about onions and all of their forms! Red, Yellow, White, Shallot, Scallion, Chives and I have seen ramps on TV but are they included? And what about so called Sweet Onions? Boiler onions? Pearl onions?
Here is basically what I said: Red has more bite, White is super onion, Yellow is more mild than white, Sweet is a yellow one and is not quite as bitey as the regular yellow because it is more sweet, Shallots are a more mild yellow with a bit of sweet, Scallions or green onions are kind of spicy and oniony and maybe a little garlicy and Chives are basically the tops of scallions.
I am going to dive deep into The Google and see what I can come up with to make a more perfect picture! Google has led me to a couple of articles from The Kitchn so I will start there. They are really a fabulous website!
Here is basically what the experts have to say:
Yellow has a nice balance of bite and sweet, White is more sharp and pungent, Red are fairly similar to yellow in flavor and Sweet are just that, sweet.
They do fill out the article with detailed descriptions of the layers of flesh and skin of each but I will skip that and they say that onions can be stored in a cool, dark pantry or cupboard except for sweet onions, they need to be kept in the fridge.
Now we are going to find out about green onions/scallions, spring onions, leeks, chives and shallots.
First, Chives are their own plant and are considered an herb! Chives can be substituted for scallions but scallions should not be substituted for chives. The flavor of the scallion is closer to an onion flavor than the chive is so it would be overpowering in the place of a chive.
Second, Spring onions are not the same as scallions/green onions! Spring onions are a bulb that is planted in the fall and harvested in the spring-hence the name- and they have the small bulb attached when they are harvested. Sort of like a baby onion or a more mature green onion.
Third, Green onions or scallions- depending I guess on where you are from? The Asian and French recipes call them scallions while the Americans call them green onions- are baby onions! They are harvested super early into the growing cycle that makes the regular onions that we were talking about earlier.
Shallots are just a small onion. It is it’s own variety but it is in the onion family. I am a little sad that I found one sentence on my favorite onion! I use shallots all the time, so much so that I keep shallot powder on hand instead of regular onion powder.
Leeks! I love a leek. They cook down so beautifully and keep their flavor! They work in long simmering dishes like stews or onion soup! They are great in a stir-fry, the fast cook brings out a bit of the sweetness and enhances the mild oniony flavor! And probably my most favorite thing to do with them is to cut them in half, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and grill them! Onion candy at it’s best!! But what is a leek? Let’s find out what the Google comes up with!
I found an article on differencebetween.net: The difference between Shallots and Leeks. How super that I can get more shallot knowledge at the same time!
Shallots have a flavor of garlic and onions. They are pungent, sweet, and mild. The flavor is delicate, but the pungency is stronger than other onions. Leeks have an even milder flavor and their pungency is also very mild. They taste more like green onions. Shallots are eaten fresh, chopped, boiled, and cooked. They taste best when sauteed lightly in butter and are mainly used for delicate French, Indonesian, and Thai food. They are peeled, and the roots are discarded. Leeks, on the other hand, being very mild are best used for slow cooking in soups and stews. They can also be sauteed and grilled. The whole leek is not used; only the white portion is used, and the green leafy portion is discarded. They are usually sliced through the center. They should be thoroughly washed in cold water before being used to remove the dirt and grit.
They also include a bit about proper storage: Shallots are best stored at 0-2degrees Celsius at 60% to 70% humidity. To prevent them from sprouting, low temperature and low humidity is necessary. Leeks should be stored at 0 degrees Celsius at 95 % to 100% humidity. They can be stored for 2-3 months at this temperature and humidity.
I feel fairly well educated about onions and I hope that you do too!
Thanks ya’ll!! Happy cooking!