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Onion

From Academic Kids

Onion
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Onions


Onions
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Plantae
Division:Magnoliophyta
Class:Liliopsida
Order:Liliales
Family:Liliaceae
Genus:Allium
Species:A. cepa

Template:Taxobox section binomial botany

Onion in the general sense can be used for any plant in the Genus Allium but used without qualifiers usually means Allium cepa L., also called the garden onion. Onions (usually but not exclusively the bulbs) are edible with a distinctive strong flavour and pungent odour which is mellowed by cooking. They generally have a papery outer skin over a fleshy, layered inner core. Used worldwide for culinary purposes, they come in a wide variety of forms and colors.

Onions may be grown from seed or very commonly from "sets". Onion sets are produced by sowing seed very thickly one year, resulting in stunted plants which produce very small bulbs. These bulbs are very easy to set out and grow into mature bulbs the following year, but they have the reputation of producing a less durable bulb than onions grown directly from seed and thinned.

Either planting method may be used to produce spring onions or green onions, which are just onions harvested while immature, although "green onion" is also a common name for the Welsh onion, Allium fistulosum which never produces dry bulbs.

Onions are frequently used in school science laboratories because they have particularly large cells which are easily visible even through rather low-end optical microscopes. See how to prepare an onion cell slide for details.

Contents

History

Onions are probably one of the oldest crops grown by humans, being mentioned in the Bible Book of Numbers (11:5) as part of the Egyptian diet of that time. Six types of onions were known at the time of Pliny.

It is thought that bulbs from the onion family have been utilised as a food source for millennia. In Palestinian Bronze Age settlements traces of onion remains were found along side fig and date stones dating back to 5000 BC! It would be pure conjecture to suggest these were cultivated onions. The archaeological and literary evidence suggests cultivation probably took place around two thousand years later in ancient Egypt. This happened alongside the cultivation of leeks and garlic and it is thought that the slaves who built the pyramids were fed radishes and onions.[1] (http://www.selfsufficientish.com/onion.htm)

Culinary and medicinal uses

Onions are available in fresh, frozen, canned, and dehydrated forms. Onions can be used, usually chopped or sliced, in almost every type of non-dessert food, including cooked foods and fresh salads, and as a spicy garnish; they are rarely eaten on their own, but usually act as accompaniment to the main course.

  • Depending on the variety, an onion can be sharp and pungent or mild and even sweet.
  • Chopped, it is one of the three vegetables considered the holy trinity of Louisiana Creole and Cajun cuisine.
  • Cocktail onions, or pickled pearl onions, are used to garnish drinks such as martinis.

They appear to be at least somewhat effective against colds, heart disease, diabetes, and other diseases and contain antiinflammatory, anticholesterol, and anticancer components.

In many parts of the underdeveloped world, onions are used to heal blisters and boils. In the United States, products that contain onion extract (such as "Mederma") are used in the treatment of topical scars.

In 2005, a poll of 2,000 people revealed that the onion was Britain's favourite culinary vegetable.

Nutrition facts

Onion Nutritional Facts (all average size)
NutrientRawFried in OilPickled
Energy (Kcal)54664
Protein (g)1.80.90.1
Carbohydrate (g)11.95.90.7
Sodium (mg)5268
Calcium (mg)38193

[2] (http://www.selfsufficientish.com/onion.htm)

Why do onions induce tears?

As onions are sliced, cells are broken open. Onion cells have two sections, one with enzymes called allinases, the other with sulfides (amino acid sulfoxides). The enzymes break down the sulfides and generate sulfenic acids. Sulfenic acid is unstable and decomposes into a volatile gas called syn-ropanethial-S-oxide. The gas then dissipates through the air and eventually reaches one's eye, where it will react with the water to form a mild solution of sulfuric acid. The sulfuric acid irritates the nerve endings in the eyes, making them sting. The tear glands then produce tears in response to this irritation, to dilute and flush out the irritant.

The release of gas can thus best be prevented by cutting the onions under running tap water or completely under water, though this may not be very practical. Wetting the onions and your hands before slicing will lessen the effect, as some of the gas will react with the moisture on the onions and on your skin (instead of the moisture on your eyes). It also helps to breathe exclusively through the mouth during the preparation. For more tips and information, please check links in External links section.

Different species of onions will release different amounts of sulfenic acids, thus some will cause more tear formation and irritation than others.

Types of onion (Allium cepa)

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Onion_set.JPG
Onion set

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Allium_cepa2.jpg
Egyptian onions

Related species

The genus Allium is a large one, and most of the species are considered to be "onions" in the looser sense. Commonly raised vegetable alliums include the leeks, garlic, elephant garlic, chives, shallots, Welsh onions and garlic chives. There are also species, such as Allium moly, grown for ornament.

Several species of Allium, including A. canadense and A. diabolense, can be collected in the wild and their leaves and bulbs used as food.

External links

Eye Irritation Information

Eclectic Herbal Information

Homeopathic Information

  • Allium cepa (all-cep.) (http://www.homeoint.org/books3/kentmm/all-cep.htm) "Kent's Lectures on Homeopathic Materia Medica" by Dr Robert S�ror
  • Allium cepa (http://www.homeoint.org/books5/allenprimer/all-c.htm) "A Primer of Materia Medica for practitioners of Homœopathy" by Timothy Allen


See also

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