Onions are the most used flavouring vegetable in the world.
Most savoury dishes include one of the onion family - white and red onions, garlic, chives, shallots, spring onions and leeks. All of these vary enormously in shape, size, colour, texture and intensity of flavour. New Zealand's top onion growing area is Pukekohe, south of Auckland.
Main crop onions
These are the most common onions and are available all year round. They are strongly flavoured, firm onions with layers of golden brown paper skins and white flesh. Generally used for cooking rather than eaten raw. The most common varieties are Pukekohe Long Keeper and Pukekohe Early Long Keeper.
Store in a cool, dark, well ventilated place. Do not put them in plastic bags; if purchased in plastic, remove as soon as possible. Avoid refrigerating or storing with any food that may absorb their flavour.
How to prepare
Remove skin and root, cut as required; slice, dice, wedge or leave whole. Braising; blanch first. Roasting; skin can be left on when roasted whole. Stuffing; peel, cut off top, scoop out centre to leave 1 cm shell. The release of oil during peeling brings tears to the eyes – there is no guaranteed way of avoiding this. The best advice is to peel and slice quickly. To peel large quantities of pickling onions, top and tail, then cover with boiling water for 5 minutes, drain and remove the skins which will slip off easily.
Ways to eat
Onions can be eaten raw, cooked or pickled. In many recipes, onions add flavour and texture. They can be used in soups, braises, stews, pizzas, pies, pasta dishes, salads, sandwiches, sauces, chutneys and stir fries.
Boil, microwave, roast, steam, stir fry, braise, stew.