Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Red Onions Everywhere

We received a 35 pound bag of red onions from a neighbor today and learned that an onion truck was in a wreck.  Then several people mentioned that they had onions to give away.  What can you do with this many onion?  We enjoy sauteed onions and vegetables, but don't want them every day.  Red onions are also a nice additions to salads and great for making salsa and pico de gallo.

Dry bulb onions should be kept in a cool, dry, well ventilated place. Do not store whole onions in plastic bags. Lack of air movement will reduce their storage life. They should kept a month or two.  Sweet onions have a higher water content than storage onions, making them more susceptible to bruising, and a shorter shelf life than storage varieties. One way to extend the shelf life of a sweet or high water content onion is to wrap each one in paper towels or newspaper and place them in the refrigerator to keep them cool and dry.

To reduce tearing when cutting onions, first chill the onions for 30 minutes. Then, cut off the top and peel the outer layers leaving the root end intact. (The root end has the highest concentration of sulphuric compounds that make your eyes tear.)  Slice the onion from the top, leaving the root until the end.

 With all of the activities coming up I decided we should preserve some of ours and looked up the directions.  I have never tried this, but what do we have to loose.  The manuals do not recommend freezing because the quality is poor.

To freeze onions for use in soups and casseroles: peel and clean as for eating then water blanch the whole bulb for 3 to 7 minutes until the center is heated.  Cool promptly and drain.  Then package in a freezer appropriate container with 1/2 inch head space.  This sounds easy.

To make onion rings: wash, peel, and slice onions.  Separate into rings.  Water blanch for 10 to 15 seconds.  Cool promptly in ice water, drain and coat with flour.  Dip in milk.  Coat with a mixture of equal parts cornmeal and pancake mix.  Arrange in a single layer on a tray.   Freeze.  Pack into containers using plastic wrap to separate layers.  Seal and Freeze.  To prepare fry frozen rings in 375 degrees oil until golden brown.  I plan to try this over the weekend.

A great way to preserve onions is by drying them.  Remove outer paper shells and wash.  Remove tops and root ends, slice 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick.  You do not need to blanch, just lay on trays in a single layer.  Dry 3 to 9 hours in a dehydrator.  I plan on trying this tomorrow night.

Onions can also be pressure canned or pickled.  Call the Extension Office, for details on how to can onions.

So just for fun, you may even want to make this for the fair next week, here is a recipe from the National Onion Association.  I bet red onions would make a tastier cake.

Caramelized Chocolate Cake

6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup finely diced yellow onion
1 cup vegetable oil, divided
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk, soured with 1 tablespoon vinegar
Easy Fudge Icing (recipe follows)
Melt chocolate in saucepan, stirring over low heat, or in microwave oven. Caramelize onion by sautéing over medium low heat for 8-10 minutes in 2 tablespoons oil in skillet until soft. In large bowl, beat remaining oil with sugar, eggs and vanilla until thoroughly mixed and fluffy, about 2 or 3 minutes. Beat in warm melted chocolate and caramelized onions. Mix flour with baking soda and salt; stir into batter alternately with milk. Divide batter evenly into 2 well-greased and floured 8-inch round layer cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-35 minutes or until a pick inserted into center comes out dry. Cool 15 minutes then invert onto wire racks to thoroughly cool. Spread on icing. Makes 12 servings.

Easy Fudge Icing: melt 8 ounces unsweetened chocolate with 1/2 cup butter in saucepan, stirring often over very low heat. Mix in 1/2 cup hot water then turn into mixing bowl. Beat in about 5 cups powdered sugar, a portion at a time. (Adjust as needed to make a good consistency.) Quickly fill and frost cake while icing is still warm. If some icing gets too cool to spread easily, place it in microwave safe bowl and microwave shortly just until softened and lustrous. Makes about 3-1/2 cups.

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