A Beginner's Guide to Variety Onions | Melissa's Produce

Can you imagine a world without onions? 

There is no doubt that you are familiar with the everyday cooking onions like, Red, White, Yellow, and Vidalia onions.  But the onions you will read about today are not your traditional onion.  The shapes, sizes, flavors, and textures all create a unique eating experience.

These alliums—members of a family that also includes garlic and chives—are indispensable, adding a baseline of sweet and earthy flavor to many cooked dishes and contributing a spicy accent when served raw. With about a dozen varieties readily available in most grocery stores, as well as several less common types, it can be hard to know which kind of onion to choose for your marinara sauce and which to select for your pico de gallo.  Read on to learn more about the onions you may have been curious about.

Cipolline Onions

The many varieties of onions from Melissa’s can be divided into two main classifications: Green Onions or scallions (onions harvested when green) and Dry Onions (mature onions) harvested when their flesh is juicy and covered with a dry skin. Melissa’s Cipolline Onions, originally grown in Verona, Italy (and now in the U.S. too) fall into the dry onion category.

Baked, broiled or stuffed, premium growing conditions ensure that these onions will have a sweet, delicate flavor! Melissa’s Cipolline Onions are delicious in any dish where extra flavor is needed. Sure to be one of the sweetest onions you will taste, try this onion variety barbecued on skewers with chicken, beef, or lamb, or use in soups, stews, and casseroles. Cipolline Onions are also a favorite when added to roasts or when baked "Verona Style" (see package for recipe).

Melissa’s Cipolline Onions are hand selected for excellent quality and should be firm and heavy for their size, with dry, papery skins. When selecting dry onions, avoid any signs of moisture, green shoots or dark spots. Keep in mind humidity can breed spoilage in dry onions. Store Melissa’s Cipolline Onions in a cool, dry place with good air circulation for up to two months (depending on condition when purchased). Once cut, tightly wrap any unused onion in plastic, refrigerate and use within four days.


Pearl Onions

These tiny onions are smaller than boiler onions and contain a sweet, mild flavor. They are available in white, red and gold varieties. Although often used in a variety of dishes, Melissa’s Pearl Onions are a favorite when creamed or pickled.

Melissa’s Pearl Onions are hand selected for excellent quality. Look for Pearl Onions that are firm, heavy for their size and have dry, papery skins. When selecting Pearl Onions avoid any signs of moisture, green shoots or dark spots. Keep in mind that humidity breeds spoilage in dry onions. Store whole Pearl Onions in a cool, dry place with good air circulation for up to two months, (depending on condition when purchased). Once cut, tightly wrap any unused onion in plastic, refrigerate and use within four days.


French Echalion Onions

French Echalion (Banana) Shallots are covered with a thin, paper-like skin that can range from pale brown or light gray to a soft rose. Once exposed, the ivory shallot is usually marked by a pale green or purple color. Since each head is made up of several cloves, shallots actually resemble a clove of garlic rather than an onion. 

As members of the onion family, Melissa’s French Echalion Shallots are tender in texture with a milder flavor than other onion varieties. The delicate flavor of these shallots complements sauces and salad dressings, and they may be substituted for onions in all your favorite recipes.


Boiler Onions

Melissa’s Boiler Onions are available in white, red, and gold and fall into the dry onion category and are almost two inches in diameter. They impart a sweet, pungent flavor.

Boiler onions can be used in casseroles, stews, or as a side dish. They are superb grilled with assorted meats and vegetables on shish-kabobs. They are also favored for use in pickling.

Melissa’s Boiler Onions should be firm, heavy for their size, with dry, papery skins. When selecting dry onions, avoid any signs of moisture, green shoots or dark spots. Keep in mind that humidity breeds spoilage in dry onions.

Store whole dry onions in a cool, dry place with good air circulation for up to two months (depending on condition when purchased). Once cut, tightly wrap any unused onion in plastic, refrigerate and use within four days.


Shallots

As members of the onion family, Melissa’s Organic Shallots are tender in texture, mild in flavor (less pungent than the onion), and quick cooking. Since each head is made up of several cloves, Shallots often resemble garlic rather than onions. Covered with a thin, paper-like skin, 

Melissa’s Organic Shallots are hand selected to insure excellent quality and organically grown in accordance with the 1990 California Organic Foods Act. Melissa's Organic label reads: "Melissa's Certified Organic Produce is free of artificial or synthetic fertilizers and full of unforgettable, great tasting flavor. Our farmers use traditional earth-friendly farming methods inspected by a nationally recognized agency to verify organic authenticity. Melissa's Organic Produce, a choice made closer to nature." 

Organic Shallots are preferred for reasons of taste, health and the environment. Melissa’s Organic Shallots make excellent additions to sauces and salads.

Use the same method to select Organic Shallots as you would in selecting onions. Melissa’s Organic Shallots should be firm, heavy for size, with dry, papery skins. When selecting Shallots, avoid any signs of moisture, green shoots or dark spots. Keep in mind humidity breeds spoilage in Shallots. Store whole Shallots in a cool, dry place with good air circulation for up to one month (depending on condition when purchased). Once cut, tightly wrap any unused Shallot in plastic, refrigerate and use within four days.
Which onion variety is your favorite?  
Tell us in the comments below

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