Caramelizing onions is basically cooking onions for an extended period of time with a bit of fat. Either oil or butter is used in the process. But did you know that the process of caramelization happens because of the presence of sucrose in the cells of an onion?
Sucrose, a natural sugar, is trapped in the cells of onions. The longer an onion is cooked, the more sucrose is released, and the heat converts the sucrose into glucose and fructose, both of which are sweeter sugars. This is known as caramelization, resulting in very sweet-tasting onions.
The Process of Caramelizing Onions
Caramelized onions are made by slowly cooking onions until they become meltingly soft, deeply browned all over, and deliciously sweet. Onions are typically sliced, but they can also be diced or minced.
In the process, two different browning reactions are at work: caramelization, in which sugars break down into hundreds of new molecules, and the Maillard reaction, in which proteins and sugars transform into an insane number of new flavor and aroma molecules. Caramelization and the Maillard reaction combine to transform pungent raw onions into something so mild and sweet that it could pass for dessert.
What caramelized onions aren’t: onions that have been sautéed over high heat until they brown and char unevenly. Caramelized onions require time to gradually and evenly deepen in color, flavor, and sweetness, ensuring that the final result is consistent throughout and free of bitter notes from burned bits. Even if you cook them slowly and evenly, caramelized onions should not be cooked until they’re so dark that they have an acrid flavor. You’ve accidentally burned caramelized onions for dessert. (Source: Jacksonville)
What Nutrients are Found in Onions?
Onions are high in nutrients. According to published nutritional analyses, onions contain dietary fiber, vitamins C, B6, and folic acid. One cup of onions contains 11% of the daily value for dietary fiber, 20% of the daily value for vitamin C, 10% of the daily value for vitamin B6, and 8% of the daily value of folate. (Source: Jacksonville)
Can You Cut Onions Without Crying?
When the skin of an onion is peeled away, the sulfur compounds within the onion are converted to ally sulfate, which causes people to cry. You can reduce eye irritation by cutting the onion while running it under water, wearing protective glasses, cooling the onion for 30 minutes to an hour, using a sharp knife, and keeping your distance while cutting. First, cut off the top of the onion. You should not cut the root end because it contains most of the tear-producing compounds. (Source: Jacksonville)
Do Onions Have a Medicinal Use?
Onions contain quercetin, a phytochemical in tea and apples with antioxidant properties. Onions have been studied to treat various diseases, including heart disease, certain cancers, stomach ulcers, and even osteoporosis. (Source: Jacksonville)
How are Onions Grown?
Onions can be grown from seeds or bulbs by farmers and gardeners. If they plant seeds, they must remove most of the young plants later to allow the rest to grow more successfully. This is known as thinning, and they can also plant young bulbs. This is faster, but the onions grown this way are weaker than those grown from seeds. (Source: Jacksonville)
Image from Britannica