How to buy onions

Before I entered into my career in the Produce Industry, I knew very little about how to purchase an onion effectively.  Sometimes, I would put them on a hot dog or a sandwich and the onion would add a smooth, satisfying flavor while other times the onion was so strong it would ruin my meal.  I could never figure out what I was doing wrong and why onions were so different.  Hopefully after reading this, you will have a better understanding on how to buy the right onion for your needs and your onions will never ruin your meals!

The first thing to look for when buying any onion is the quality.  Avoid onions that have green sprouts, cuts, bruises, or any type of surface mold.  Watch out for onions with a wet or slimy surface and finally, feel the neck of the onion.  If the neck of the onion is soft, it is likely that the onion is in the early to moderate stages of decay.

Onions come in various colors and varieties.  Each has their own uses and benefits to the consumer.  Below I have outlined the four main varieties of bulb onions and how they can be used most effectively in your kitchen.

Red Onions– Red onions range from mild to moderately bold.  They are perfect for that summer salad, sandwiches, and taste great on pizza with red sauce.
White Onions– White onions tend to be the boldest onion on the shelves.  They are ideal for recipes looking for a little kick like Guacamole, Salsa, or Three Bean Salad.
Yellow Onions– Yellow onions, sometimes referred to as cooking onions, range from mild to bold.  They are commonly referred to as cooking onions simply because that is what they are best suited for, cooking.  These onions tend to have a firm, golden skin with several layers and are great for adding depth and flavor to soups, stews, and casseroles.
Sweet Yellow Onions– Sweet Yellow onions offer a unique twist versus a standard Yellow Cooking onion.  Sweet onions tend to have a flaky, light skin and are high in moisture and sugar content.  They are flavorful, yet not as pungent as your typical onion.  Sweet onions are ideal for recipes that call for raw onions.  Additionally, they are wonderful on sandwiches, hamburgers, hot dogs, and in salads.  There are many widely recognized sweet onion brands available based on seasonality to include Liberty Sweet onions, Vidalia Sweet onions, Walla Walla Sweet onions, Texas 1015 Sweet onions, Imperial Sweet onions, OSO Sweet onions etc.  With the growing consumer demand for Sweet onions, most retailers carry Sweet onions year round at some capacity.

Happy shopping, and don’t forget the onions!