What’s the Difference?

Yellow, White, and Red Onions

onions.jpg

Today, I decided to make Gyros for dinner and was looking up recipes for the sauce and what to add in the Gyro itself. Most recipes called for onions, not specifying which to use.  I got curious about why you use certain onions for certain things and can they be interchangeable.  I found the following information useful.

Wonder why some recipes call for a particular kind of onion and whether another can be substituted in its place?

 

All these onions vary slightly in flavor, texture, and color, but can usually be substituted for one another. In terms of cooking, they will all behave the same in the pan.

When buying onions, go for ones that feel heavy in your hand and firm. Avoid soft onions or ones that have a sharp oniony odor before peeling. These are indications that the onion is old. Except for sweet onions, all these onions can be stored for several weeks in a cool, dark pantry or cupboard.

 

Yellow Onions  This is the all-purpose onion, and it’s the one we use most often. Yellow onions have a nice balance of astringency and sweet in their flavor, becoming sweeter the longer they cook. They are usually fist-sized and have a fairly tough outer skin and meaty layers. Spanish onions are a particular kind of yellow onion and we find them to be slightly sweeter and more delicate in flavor.

 

White Onions – These onions tend to have a sharper and more pungent flavor than yellow onions. They tend to be more tender and have a thinner, more papery skin. They can be cooked just like yellow onions, but we like them minced and added to raw salsas and chutneys.

 

Sweet Onions – Walla Walla and Vidalia are the most common kinds of sweet onions. These onions lack the sharp, astringent taste of other onions and really do taste sweet. They are fantastic thinly sliced and served in salads or on top of sandwiches. They can range in color from white to yellow and often have a flattened or squashed appearance. Sweet onions tend to be more perishable and should be stored in the refrigerator.

 

Red Onions – With their deep purple outer skin and reddish flesh, these are really the odd guys out in the onion family. They are fairly similar to yellow onions in flavor, though their layers are slightly less tender and meaty. Red onions are most often used in salads, salsas, and other raw preparations for their color and relatively mild flavor. The lovely red color becomes washed out during cooking. If you find their flavor to astringent for eating raw, try soaking them in water before serving.

Onions are a garden favorite and can be eaten raw, in salsas and salads, and cooked into your favorite recipes. Home gardeners can choose from onion varieties that are mildly sweet to pungent. Because onions are affected by the amount of light they receive, some grow better in the North, while others perform better in the South. Short-day onions begin forming bulbs when daylight lasts 10-12 hours and are often the sweetest and best for eating raw. They’re most often grown in the South. Long-day onions begin forming bulbs when daylight lasts 14-16 hours. They are usually pungent, often store well for many months, and are usually grown in the North. Day-neutral onions are a cross of the two types. Onions can be started from seeds, sets, and plants.

Shallots

Shallots have a subtle flavor that is much milder than onions or garlic and are a favorite of gourmet cooks. Their flavor really shines when sautéed in butter or olive oil. Like green onions, their green shoots and bulbs are edible and the green shoots can be used as a green onion or scallion substitute. While shallots can be grown from seed, growing them from sets is often easiest. After harvest, cured bulbs can be stored for up to six months.

Leeks

Leeks look like overgrown green onions but have a milder, more delicate flavor than onions. The white base and green stalk are used for cooking in creamy soups, fresh, stocks and more. Leeks can be direct seeded outdoors or started indoors and transplanted into the garden. Thinning during the growing allows the plant to grow much larger. After harvest, leeks can keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks—or they can be dried for storage.

Remember…

Onions, shallots, and leeks are not considered interchangeable when it comes to cooking, even though some blogs and websites might say they are interchangable. Make sure you use whichever your recipe calls for, as the distinct flavor of each may alter the taste of your dish.

 

Do you have a favorite kind of onion?

 

MOST TALKED ABOUT
dmelzah
11 Apr
These kitchens would be great for someone who doesn’t cook. Those of us who do need places to store things.
People Are Ditching Their Upper Kitchen Cabinets and I Don’t Think I Like It
againstthegrain
23 May, 2014
Definitely, regular use of the range hood fan and cleaning of the filters is a good way to remove the odors and nasty fumes created by cooking.One thing I’d like to point out about reducing the oily residue that adheres to the exhaust fan is that certain cooking techniques create more sticky, aerosolized nastiness than others, and some grease and oil films are more resistant to cleanup than others, too, esp if allowed to sit and harden.Stir frying is the worst for creating aerosolized oily fumes that cling to surfaces around the stove and kitchen, with or without a range hood fan. The heat, the open pan, the constant motion continually kicks up oily fumes that settle on surfaces much farther than most cooks realize.Cooking low and slow takes more time, but also reduces the amount of oil and grease splattering into the air and around the stove, often producing better food in the process. Simmering, braising, and slow cooking generally create less oily mess to clean up overall. Cooking in a pressure cooker saves time and keeps open pot cooking time to a minimum, therefore reduces splatter and aerosolized fumes.Furthermore, oil sprays, such as PAM and knockoffs, create a LOT of sticky, persistent aerosolized oil drift that is VERY difficult to wash away once it hardens and dries – newer formulas claim to create less residue on cookware, but less isn’t none. Spray cookware over the sink for easier cleanup of overspray, or spray outside the house (or better yet, don’t spray at all and avoid filling lungs with oily spray, too).Cooking in open pans with polyunsaturated oils from seeds (vegetable oil, canola, corn oil, soybean oil, safflower oil sunflower oil, etc., tends to promote oily fume creation. Fumes from polyunsaturated oils settle on surfaces and then become rancid, hardened, and quite plasticized. These films are very resistant to scrubbing and cleansers.I have found that cooking with traditional and more stable fats like butter, ghee, tallow, bacon drippings, duck fat, and coconut or palm oil tends creates less oily fumes (esp if food is cooked low and slow instead of stir-frying and high heat sautéing). Splatters will still occur round the pan perhaps, but they tend not to aerosolize and form thin sticky fumes that create resistant films to the same extent as polyunsaturated oils when they settle on kitchen surfaces.I became aware of the the change in the rate of oily film buildup in my range hood and surfaces adjacent to my stove when my cooking changed over the past few years – I had stopped using and buying seed oils and making quick sauté recipes. Instead I made more traditional braising and simmering recipes using traditional fats instead of oils. The lack of oily film buildup after several years of cooking differently was particularly noticeable when we were away for four months last year and had house sitters in our house during our absence; they stir fried most of their meals on high heat with a liquid oil. While the stove and kitchen was generally clean at first glance when we returned home, an oily residue had settled inside and outside the range hood and on the cabinets around the stove , and was far worse than I’d ever experienced with my own cooking, even when the range fan hadn’t been working.
How To Clean a Greasy Range Hood Filter
herms
24 Jan, 2014
I take that back, I also peel swede, since it’s usually waxed.
To Peel or Not to Peel: 7 Questions I Ask Myself Before Peeling a Vegetable
Sponsored

Sponsored
Loading…

We’ve updated our policy regarding how we treat and protect data that is collected and used from our sites. Our sites use cookies to improve your experience and enable certain functionality. Learn more.

 

What’s the Difference?

Roast Beef Stock Recipe

This is a simple and wonderful recipe from Bon Appetit and I am going to make some this afternoon.

roast-beef-stockINGREDIENTS

  • 5 pounds veal or beef marrow bones
  • 4 peeled carrots
  • 4 celery stalks
  • 2 halved peeled onions
  • 1 halved head of garlic
  • ½ bunch flat-leaf parsley stems
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon black peppercorns

RECIPE PREPARATION

  • Preheat oven to 450°. Roast marrow bones (have your butcher saw them into pieces) in a roasting pan, turning occasionally, until browned, 25–30 minutes. Cut carrots and celery into 3” pieces; add to pan along with onions and garlic. Roast, turning occasionally, until vegetables are brown, 25–30 minutes.

  • Transfer to a large stockpot; add cold water to cover. Pour off fat from pan, add ½ cup water, and stir, scraping up browned bits; add liquid to pot along with parsley, thyme, bay leaves, and black peppercorns. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 4 hours, occasionally skimming foam and fat from surface and adding water as needed. Strain.

  • DO AHEAD: Stock can be made 2 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill, or freeze up to 3 months.

Roast Beef Stock Recipe

Onions ~ Onions ~ Onions ~ Onions

I love cooking and if you follow my blog you get that right away.  As I grow wiser in my cooking skills (have more time to cook) I am learning the subtilties of flavor. Why use an onion when you could use a leek.  Why shallots and not onions.  Why a yellow onion instead of a sweet Walla Walla onion.  It is important to know the differences and why you use one in one place and another in another dish.  What onions taste good raw and which ones may not so much. So I started doing a little onion research, or why do some make you cry and others do not.

Yellow Onions

Yellow onions, the most popular cooking onions add excellent flavor to most stews, soups, and meat dishes. In fact, typically when a cooked recipe calls for onion, yellow onion is a safe way to go. Yellow onions have a yellow-brown papery skin on the outside and a white flesh.

It is to know if someone is cooking with yellow onion because my eyes start to water due to effect of higher sulfur content. The yellow onion has a high sulfur content, so it has a more pungent flavor and smell, which typically makes it too strong to eat raw unless there are other ingredients to counter-balance the flavor.  I use yellow onions in stews, soups, sautéed dishes, and shish kabobs. They have excellent flavor when cooked, and I rarely cook without them.

Yellow Onions

White Onions

White onions have an all-white skin and an all-white flesh. They have a slightly milder flavor than the yellow onion and are a great substitute if you’re in need of an onion flavor, but don’t want it to be too powerful. White onions are commonly used in Mexican cuisines. I don’t know if I have ever used them and I finally now know when to substitute.

White Onions

Red Onions

Red onions are used more in non-cooked dishes, such as salads and sandwiches. Of the different colored onions, the red onion is the most mild, sweet onion. Red onions have the purplish-red skin which color is layered though it’s white flesh. I personally don’t like to cook heated dishes with red onion because it doesn’t produce enough onion flavor to enhance my meal. Keep in mind that cooking an onion diminishes its flavor, but increases the flavor of the food around it. I love cooked red onions caramelized for hamburgers.

Red Onions

Sweet Onions
Sweet onions, sometimes referred to as “short day” onions, because their growing season occurs during the fall and winter with harvest usually in spring /summer, are fresh onions, picked and cured for a short time, then rushed to market. Storage onions, or regular globe onions, are harvested in late summer and fall, stored in warehouses and delivered to markets throughout most of the year.

Although there is no official industry standard, it is generally accepted that an onion should contain at least 6% sugar to be in the “sweet” category. Some sweet onions, like the OsoSweet, have recorded sugar levels of up to 15%. Storage onions usually range from 3%-5% in sugar content.


Unlike sweet onions, regular onions have high levels of sulfur compounds. It’s the pyruvic acid in the sulfur that causes tears, harshness, and indigestion. That’s why great sweet onions are always grown in soil with low amounts of sulfur. Typically, sweet onions have pyruvic acid levels that measure below 5%; storage onions usually run 10%-13%. Because a sweet onion is also a fresh onion it is very high in water content, which further dilutes the effect of the sulfur and increases mildness.


The best sweet onions deliver a burst of sweetness when bitten into, are incredibly mild, with very little if any sharpness, and have a subtle, fruity flavor. They should still taste like an onion, but be much sweeter and milder.


Sweet onions have a thinner, lighter color skin than storage onions and tend to be more fragile. Signs in produce sections usually differentiate between sweet onions and storage onions. Most producers also put stickers on each individual onion, such as “Texas 1015 SuperSweet,” “Sweet Imperials,” etc. Another indication is price – sweet onions are a premium product that can range anywhere from 79 cents a pound and up.


Although it seems like sweet onions are a relatively new item, they were first introduced to America around the turn of the century when a retired French soldier brought some onion seeds from Corsica to the Walla Walla region of the Pacific Northwest. But it wasn’t until the savvy farmers in Georgia realized what a special thing they had in the Vidalia onion and began spreading the news far and wide that the sweet onion finally got the attention it deserves.


Once considered just a spring/summer treat, these sweet orbs are now available year-round. Vidalias, a springtime delight, now show up in markets until late fall, thanks to controlled-atmosphere storage. And now with the development of the OsoSweet onion, we can enjoy mild, sweet onions all winter long.

Onion vs Shallot

In the culinary world, you may come across two ingredients that may somehow confuse you, the onion and the shallot. Some people may consider them very similar as they often substitute one with the other. However, established culinary experts know the distinct tastes and texture they provide in every cuisine. So, how different are they from each other? Let’s break it down.

Onion is a general term used to refer plants in the genus Allium. However onions, as a common name, usually refers to specific specie, the “garden or bulb onion” (Allium cepa).

The bulb onion is a popular kitchen ingredient that is used worldwide. As the name implies, it is bulb shaped but sometimes flat almost disc shaped. Its skin colors are white, yellow or red. The taste depends entirely on the variety. It can sharp, spicy, tangy and pungent or mild and sweet.

Onions are grown from seed or commonly, from sets. They eventually grow into a large single bulb per plant. Onions are rather difficult to propagate since there are special processes involved to produce a durable bulb.

A shallot, on the other hand, is referred to two different Allium species the Allium oschaninii and the Allium cepa var. aggregatum or Allium ascalonicum.

The Allium oschaninii is the French grey challot or griselle. This specie is considered as the “true shallot” but still cannot beat the Allium cepa variety in terms of global popularity. The latter is widely accepted as the shallot.

Shallots, the Allium ascalonicum variety — grow in clusters, just like those of garlic, where separate bulbs are attached at the base. However, unlike garlic, the individual bulbs are not encircled together by a common membrane. They are closely related to multiplier onions and are rather easy to grow as they require little soil preparation. The plants seldom form seed, so they’re usually grown from cloves ñ they are vegetatively multiplied.

They look like elongated onions and the skin is colored copper, reddish, or gray. Shallots have a mild taste which is a mix of sweet onion flavor and a touch of garlic.

Summary:
1.  Shallots grow as a cluster of bulbs from a single planted bulb similar to garlic while onions grow as a single big bulb per plant.
2. Shallots are a lot smaller compared to onions.
3. The common onion is Allium cepa while the commonly accepted shallot is Allium ascalonicum.
4. The shallot may resemble the taste of onion but milder and sweeter in flavor. Distinctively from onions, shallot may taste with a hint of garlic.
5. Onions are more difficult to grow than shallots.
6. Onions are seed-propagated, whereas shallots are vegetatively multiplied.
7. Onions are almost disc-shaped bulbs while shallots can appear like elongated onions.

How to Pick a Good Onion

In general, when you’re choosing onions in the store, the best ones will be firm, have a crackly outer skin, and have a mild scent. If their scent is overwhelming it’s a good sign the onion is starting to spoil. Avoid onions with dark spots or mold as well, though every once in a while I’ll still purchase those if I’m going to use them right away (I guess that’s my altruistic side coming out–take one for the team, you know). On another note, onions tend to store better in a slightly cooler, darker area, although the fridge is not recommended. The onion smell has a tendency to spoil the flavor of other foods in the fridge.

Here is a great chart to help you decide what to use.  Oh wait, where do Leeks fit in?

Screen Shot 2017-11-16 at 5.01.27 PM

Leeks vs Green Onions 

leeks Leeks

Screen Shot 2017-11-16 at 6.42.09 PM

Onion is one vegetable that is an integral part of kitchens around the world. It is used both as a vegetable and also eaten raw in the form of salad. It has a pungent smell but used in cooking, to add to the flavor and aroma of many different types of food recipes. There are many different types of onions with green onions being very popular in European and Chinese cuisine. There is another variety called leek that confuses many because of its similarities with green onions. However, despite similarities, there are subtle differences also that prevent leeks being substituted with onions in many recipes.

Onion

Onion is a flowering plant belonging to the genus Allium that also contains garlic and leek. It is the edible bulb of onion plant that is used universally in cooking or as raw vegetable. Even the stem and the leaves of onion plant are used in cooking in many parts of the world. The most common and popular type of onion around the world is the red onion that is also called common onion. Onion bulb is known for its health benefits to human beings. It is anti-inflammatory, reduces cholesterol levels, and also has antioxidant properties. However, most people love it to consume onion bulb because of its taste and aroma. The paste of onion bulbs is used to thicken curries and to add to the flavor. The characteristic feature of red onion is its multilayered structure. It has a pungent smell and brings tears to the eyes of a person who cuts it into pieces.

One of the varieties of onions is green onion or scallion that is known by different names such as spring onions, baby onions, salad onions, gibbons, etc. These varieties have smaller bulbs that are not fully developed. The leaves are hollow from inside and are edible. These varieties are milder than red onions and used cooked as well as raw.

Leek

Leek is a plant that belongs to the family of genus Allium. It is a symbol of Wales and Welsh leeks are very popular all over Europe for their taste and aroma. Leek is a plant that does not produce a strong bulb and has long leaves that are cylindrical and crunchy to eat. People mistakenly refer to the heath of leaves as the stem of this plant. The part of these leaves that is just above the root or the bulb and is light green in color is edible though people also consume the hard and dark green part of the leaves of leeks too.

 

Leeks vs Green Onions

• Both green onions, as well as leeks, are part of the same onion family, but leeks are larger and are milder in taste and aroma than green onions.

• It is harder to cook the leaves of leeks while green onion leaves can be easily cooked.

• Leeks look like oversized green onions.

• Green onion leaves can be eaten raw, but leeks require to be cooked before consumption.

• One has to blanch the leaves of leeks as mud and dirt hides in between its leaves.

• It is the light green part of the leaves of leeks that are edible.

• Welsh leeks are very popular, and the vegetable is a national symbol of the country.

So did this help or are you now totally confused.

Once again ~ Happy Cooking!~

Onions ~ Onions ~ Onions ~ Onions