Soul food recipes that contain sweet onions may seem like relatively new recipes, but the sweet onions were first introduced around the turn of the century. Word has it that a soldier brought some sweet onion seeds from Corsica to the Pacific Northwest.
Overtime, farmers realized what a special thing they had in the sweet onions. They soon began spreading the news far and wide. Of all the healthy compounds contained in onions, two stand out. They are sulfur and quercetin; both antioxidants.
They each have been shown to help neutralize free radicals in the body. They also protect the membranes of the cells from damage. Quercetin is also found in red wine and tea, but in much lower quantities.
Most health professionals recommend eating raw onions for maximum benefit. However, cooking makes them more versatile and does not significantly reduce their potency. In fact, unlike sulfur compounds quercetin can withstand the heat of cooking.
It has been well documented that onions help prevent thrombosis and reduce hypertension, according to the American Heart Association. The juice of one yellow or white onion a day can raise HDL cholesterol, the good stuff, by thirty percent.
Anyone can tell you that sweet onions, when used for soul food recipes, sell out very quickly. It is always a good idea to stock up when you can. Here are a few sweet onion tips.
Look for sweet onions that are light and golden brown in color. Make sure they have a shiny tissue thin skin and firm, tight, dry necks. Ordinary storage onions are darker and have a thicker skin. When cut into them, sweet onions should have a creamy white interior. Avoid onions that have soft spots or surface bruises.
1. The bigger and firmer the onion, the easier it will be to cut.
2. Use a sharp knife. A dull knife can slip and will mash rather than slice through the onion.
3. Use a straight edge knife rather than a serrated knife for cleaner cuts.
4. Be sure your cutting board is positioned securely on the counter. If necessary, place a damp kitchen towel underneath to keep the board from sliding around.
5. If cutting onions ahead of time pack them in a plastic zipper lock freezer bag. Squeeze all the air out, then enclose in a second plastic zipper lock freezer bag. This will help to keep everything in your fridge from smelling and tasting like onions.
6. Use pre cut onions within two days.
7. Save onion trimmings, including the papery brown skin and add to soup stock for golden color. Store them in a well sealed plastic zipper lock freezer bag in your freezer.
Most sweet onions are usually high in water and sugar content. They require more care when storing. Treat them gently to avoid bruising. Sweet onions will keep for six weeks at the most. Cut onions should be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerated
There is no official industry standard, but a sweet onion should contain at least six percent sugar. Some sweet onions have recorded sugar levels of up to twelve percent. These are especially great for soul food recipes. Regular storage onions usually range from three to five percent in sugar content.
The best sweet onions deliver a burst of sweetness when bitten into. They have very little if any sharpness, and possess a subtle, fruity flavor. They should still taste like an onion, but be much sweeter and milder. Sweet onions are a premium product and as such cost a bit more than storage onions.
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