However you slice, dice or peel it, there is no denying the onion is one of the most versatile items in your kitchen. According to Britannica, onions can be found around the world in most regions, except the tropics, New Zealand and Australia. They join garlic, scallions and other veggies as members of the Allium family, and they are characterized by “pungent linear leaves and flowers with six petals.”
Onions are organized by the region they grow in. The College of Agriculture at Oregon State University breaks down their categories as such: short-day, medium/intermediate-day and long-day. In onion types corresponding with their respective geographical locations, researchers at OSU find “short-day onions grow best in southern latitudes, medium-day onions grow best in central latitudes and long- day onions grow best in northern latitudes.”
Regardless of their category, though, onions are a staple ingredient in soups, sauces, chilis, salads and seemingly infinite other dishes. Their versatility even applies to their use! Did you know onions have a rich history of fighting evil? And, no, it wasn’t just by creating bad breath or blinding people with tears. According to Clean Eating, “In ancient times, these vegetables were thought to connect the human world to malevolent demons in the underworld. But instead of avoiding them, people harnessed their powers. They hung them [onions] above their doors to ward away evil and consumed them to avoid illness.”
All superstitions aside, onions, which are about 90% water, are jam-packed with vitamins and minerals, which makes them a no-brainer veggie to add to any meal. Onions are abundant with vitamins C, B9 and B6, as well as potassium, and they have been linked to reduce the risk of cancer and improve bone health.
Next time you find yourself in the kitchen, go ahead and slice up some onions for your burger, dice them for your salad, grill them with your kebabs or, if you’re feeling adventurous, peel and eat one like an apple. No matter how you prefer them, onions are a perfectly healthy addition to any meal. So, peel away!