Onion

Onion

Allium cepa

Onions are great for good heart health, oral health as well as boosting your immunity.

  • Plant type: Annual
  • Other names:
  • Medicinal: Yes
  • Culinary: Yes
  • Ceremonial: No
  • Parts Used: Bulb
  • Side Effects:
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About Onion

It is not just housewives or cooks who shed tears over onions –many politicians have experienced tear brimmed eyes over the cost of onions. This tear-jerking vegetable has been enhancing the taste of various cuisines since forever.

Belonging to the Amaryllidaceae family, onion is widely appreciated because of its distinctive aroma and health benefits. The bulb of the onion plant is utilized zealously for cooking and making medicines. Its plant is liable to attain a height of 18 inches at most. Onion leaves manifest a work of art. They are flattened yet fleshy with a hollow, cylindrical shape. Their color dangles from yellowish to bluish-green and when their bases begin to accumulate the food and nutrients the bulb swells up to form an onion.

Medicinally, onion is known to possess antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that can help correct the lipid profile by decreasing the dangerously high levels of triglycerides and LDL (bad cholesterol). Onions are also famous among hypertensive circles as it wonderfully reduces the high blood pressure. Its anticoagulant property protects the consumer from blood clots and thrombosis.

Onion is also one of the best immune-boosters as it is reported to shorten the duration of common cold and flu, all the while tending to high fever, sore throat, and cough.

Growing

Onions are more inclined towards cool weather in the early stages of its growth so it is planted in spring to provide it the temperature it needs. However, in mildly cold regions, onion is planted as a fall crop so it is started in autumn. On the other hand, onions can be grown year-round indoors too if the plant is provided with desirable conditions.

The aerial parts of the plant grow at cool temperatures whereas the onion bulbs develop during warmer conditions. The plantation of onion requires firm soil (either sandy loam or heavy clay) and a good load of water to allow the onion bulb to swell. Also, onion prefers to grow in a weakly acidic pH of about 5.5 to 6.5.

The location of growth must be sunny. For healthy bulbs, try adding compost or rich organic matter to impart nutrients to the soil.

Onion seeds are quick to germinate. Its seeds sprout within 4 to 10 days and within no time, onion bulbs are ready to be harvested.

Onion seeds send up the leaves that carry out photosynthesis and make their food to cater to the bulb growing underground. During spring, summer, and fall, the food accumulates in the bulb. Then in winter, this stored food helps keep the onion plant alive as it undergoes dormancy.

During the course of the second year of onion plants’ growth, the warm weather triggers it to send out flower stalks to produce flowers. From late summer to spring, the flowers bloom and get pollinated. By the time fall terminates, the flowers produce seeds that are saved for future onion yield.

Harvesting

Onions can be harvested early in the morning, after 100 to 120 days of the plantation.

Onion bulbs are harvested all around the globe by digging out the whole plant after loosening the soil with a shovel.

Onions are stored in a cool, dry, dark, and well-ventilated room. They can also be stored in a refrigerator in both intact and sliced form for 4 to 10 days.

Onions can also be dried in a dehydrator by slicing them up. They are allowed to get dehydrated for at least 12 hours to attain a dried, leathery appearance.

Usage

Onions are the most highly-rated vegetable that can be found in any pantry, dining rooms, or cuisines. Onion is also readily used in medicinal preparations because of its appreciable health benefits.

  • Tincture - Infuse freshly chopped onion leaves in grain alcohol for 4 to 6 weeks. Strain the liquid and place it in a dark and dry place. 
  • Tea - Sliced onions are boiled for few minutes in water, strained, and consumed with some honey.
  • Decoction - Finely chopped onions are allowed to boil in water with sugar for 4 hours. The onion is then strained and the decoction is saved in an airtight bottle.
  • Salve - Onion infused oil is used for preparing onion salve.
  • Syrup - Finely chopped onion is rolled with sugar solution for half an hour to yield onion syrup.
  • Infused oil - Finely chopped onion is allowed to sit in heated olive oil for two hours to yield onion oil.