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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Svelte Tip: Use an onion as a sweetener!

What? Is that a typo? Nope. Pungent and sometimes acrid when raw, the onion actually does amazing things when you cook it! Ready for the chemistry lesson?

The strong smell and taste of a raw onion comes from the sulphuric compounds trapped within its cell walls. This compound is released when you cut into it, and is the reason chopping onions makes you cry! Anyway, when you heat an onion, the sulphuric compounds are released -- the longer you cook them, the sweeter they get! And I'm not just talking about the so-called "sweet" onions like Vidalia or Walla Walla. Eaten raw, these are sweeter. But even those yellow onions in the big bag will get increasingly sweeter as you cook them.

So here's my Svelte Tip: If you've over-spiced a dish -- or simply to add amazing flavor, regardless -- heat chopped onion in a bit of olive oil until it begins to "sweat." In other words, don't brown the onions on high heat, cook them until they're soft and translucent on medium/low heat. The smaller you chop them and the longer you cook them, the sweeter they will become, melting into your dishes and adding a complexity and sweetness you can't beat!


Unknown said...

That was and interesting and helpful lesson on onions. It is so easy ,if you are the kind of cook that just dumps in the spices, to over season a dish.Thanks for the tip. It's one for the fridge.(My favorite place to put info that I want to remember.)

Unknown said...

I heard that if something is too salty, try adding a cut up potato. Is will help absorb the salt and you can remove it when you have finished cooking if you do not want it to be part of the meal.

Amanda said...

The low and slow cooking is they key to a gorgeous rich slightly-sweet french-onion soup too. The onions become this dark brown deliciousness. YUM!

Filipino Store said...

Magnificent post,

Donna Gail Broussard said...

I wonder if you slow baked chunks of onion without oil then pureed them, if it could be added to a coleslaw dressing as a sweetener and as "the onion" in your coleslaw...I'm trying to find alternative sweeteners that aren't artificial for my low-carb life. I like sweet coleslaw, but I don't like artificial sweeteners.

Donna Gail Broussard said...

Also, I just read that you can toss the sliced onion with apple cider vinegar and salt and let it sit in the fridge or outside in cool weather (covered but not airtight) for a few hours (or all day) and they will sweeten and soften without cooking and will maintain all their nutrients. So I can dump those soaked onions, along with the salt and vinegar, into my blender with my homemade mayo ingredients: raw egg yolk, oils and lemon juice and not add vinegar or salt cause it's in the onions. Blend with celery seed and wala--the healthiest coleslaw in the world. Then I don't add chunks of raw onion to my coleslaw but I still have a sweet onion taste.

The Svelte Gourmet said...

Fantastic ideas! Try them and let me know how they turn out! Sounds like a great way to cut the sugar and avoid artificial sweetener.

Thank you!