Onion Powder: At a Glance
The versatile onion has a long history of use, both as a food and as medicine. It has grown wild since prehistoric times and has been cultivated for at least 3,500 years, perhaps even longer. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans all revered the onion for its hardiness, distinct flavor, and medicinal value.
Whether they are grown in your garden or in pots on your kitchen windowsill, onions can be added chopped and sliced or in powdered form to a wide variety of fresh and cooked dishes.
Cooking with Onion Powder
The easiest way to distinguish onions for cooking purposes is by their color:
- Yellow onions: Most of the onions produced commercially in the U.S., a hefty 87 percent, are yellow onions. They come in three varieties: sweet, mild, and storage. Sweet onions can be eaten raw, lightly cooked, sautéed, or grilled. Mild onions are prepared like sweet onions but have a more pungent flavor and leave a bit of an after-taste. Storage onions have a distinctly onion flavor and are perfect in baked, roasted, sautéed, caramelized, and grilled dishes.
- Red onions: While they are produced in much lower quantities here in the U.S., red onions have become popular today, appearing in many restaurants’ sandwiches and salads. They also come in sweet, mild, and storage varieties and are typically eaten raw, grilled, or roasted. Their flavor ranges from mild to sharp, spicy, and pungent.
- White onions: White onions add a distinctly pungent yet crisp, clean flavor to white sauces, Mexican dishes, and pasta and potato salads. You’ll need to use them as quickly as possible, however, because they don’t store as long as yellow and red onions. And, as with their yellow and red counterparts, you can eat white onions raw, lightly cooked, sautéed, or grilled.
Want to avoid the teary eyes that often result from slicing and chopping onions? Consider using onion powder. The drying process gives onion powder its own unique, slightly less pungent flavor. Extremely versatile, it can be added as a seasoning to a wide range of fresh and cooked dishes.
Onions: History and Origination
Because onions have grown wild in various parts of the world for millennia, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly where they originated. Central Asia and the Babylonian culture of Iran and West Pakistan have both been put forward by researchers as possible origination sites for this prolific vegetable.
Our nomadic, hunter-gatherer ancestors in all likelihood collected onions as they foraged for food. As for actual cultivation, scientists agree that ancient Egypt, Sumeria, and China all grew onions, some say dating as far back as 5,500 BCE.
The onion soon became a staple crop in many societies around the globe because of how easy it is to grow, store, dry, and preserve them. In addition to consuming the onion, many cultures included this vitamin- and mineral-rich vegetable in their religious ceremonies and used it as medicine. Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, East Indians, and Romans all used onions to treat illnesses and to give them the strength and longevity of the gods.
Early European explorers took the onion with them on their journeys around the world where it flourishes today in many different soil types and climates.
Cultivation of Onions
The onion (Allium cepa L), including scallions and leeks, is a seasonal plant that comes in two varieties: spring/summer onions and fall/winter onions. Spring/summer onions have a thin, light-colored skin and are grown and harvested from March to August. The growing and harvesting period for the darker and thicker-skinned fall/winter onion is August through May. They grow well outdoors in gardens and indoors in pots.
With the exception of heavy clay, onions do well in just about any soil type. For less robust soils, add fertilizer or compost to improve soil quality. Start them from fresh seeds, sowing them thinly, or as onion “sets.” These are thickly sown seeds that are allowed to produce small bulbs in the autumn which are then replanted in the spring to fully mature.
Onions thrive in full sunlight and require little maintenance other than weeding and occasional watering. Bulbs will start to appear between 12 and 18 weeks after initial planting.
Harvest and eat them fresh or store them in a mesh bag or in a cool, well-ventilated space. Sweet, spring/summer onions will last about a week; the hardier fall/winter onions can survive up to three weeks in storage.
About Our Onion Powder
Our onion powder is perfect when you want that distinctive onion flavor but not the bulk of the actual onion or the teary eyes that come from chopping them.
We take mature bulbs from sweet, white onions and dry them using low heat to retain as much flavor and nutritional value as possible. The dried onion is then ground into a delicate powder that can be sprinkled on your favorite salad, added to dressings and soups, or rubbed on meat before grilling.