Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Onion

The onion, Allum cepa, of the family Amaryllindaceae, is by far most important bulb vegetable. It is used both in its green stage as scallion, or green onion, and in its mature stage as a bulb - the tightly packed globe of food storage leaves containing the volatile oil that is the source of the onion's pungent flavor. Thought to have originated in Asia, the onion has been cultivated since ancient times. Present day cultivars include the Sweet Spanish, Bermuda, and globe onions. Onions vary in color, with white, yellow, and red predominating. Cultivars range from mild to pungent; valued for their flavor, onions are low in nutrients. The family of this onion like garlic that usually have white color.

The onion plant is potentially a biennial, producing large bulbs the first year and seed the next. Plants may be grown from seed, as transplants of seedings, or as small bulbs produced from thickly planted seed; when replanted, these bulbs reach maturity. Mature onions are usually dried before marketing. Major world producers include China, India, and United States.


The onion is cultivated for its prominent bulb, which consist of the thickened bases of its cylindrical leaves. Mature bulb onions develop a papery outer skin of dried leaves. When cut, the flesh is roughly circular and is separated by membranes. Scallions are either bunch onions which have cylindrical bulbs, or young bulb onions harvested before the bulbs mature. Both the bulb and leaves are eaten.

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