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Mar 5, 2009 09:47 AM

Peeling Onions by the bushel

Normally I just peel an onion or two for supper and don't even think about it. I just do it.
But today I decided to make a huge batch of Caramelized Onions. After peeling 10lbs worth, I said to myself, "self....there has to be a better way"
Any ideas?

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  1. If you hear, please please pass them on. I made onion soup enough for 3 pots for the salvation army. I volunteer 1 a month. I made 3 f gallon buckets. Talk about onions. I lost count of how many. It took 5 of us forever to peel them all.

    Someone had got to have a better way. I agree billieboy, making soup just for me is bad enough, this was a test!

    1. Cold onions, a very sharp knife and quick chopping.

      4 Replies
      1. re: alwayscooking

        Oh, it's not the chopping that bothers me, in fact I enjoy food prep, it's the damned peeling of them. Like I said, not one or two, but 10 lbs....boooooring.

        1. re: billieboy

          ? Do you peel after taking the top off and halving - seems like the easy part. If peeling whole, that would be a dull run - choose some good background music.

          1. re: alwayscooking

            I did, still just a pain, I used a mandolin (sp?) to slice, Need a few hundred) That was the easy part

        2. These are all things I figured out for myself, but have since seen in Cooks Illustrated:
          1. Refrigerating the unpeeled onions first keeps them from causing teary eyes when
          they are cut.
          2. If peeling an onion before cutting, start at the stem end, not the root. Grab the tip of
          a stem and pull it back to get started.
          3. It's easier to peel if you first halve the onion from pole to pole. Then start at the stem
          end and pull back to the root end, but do not tear the peel off. You can then anchor the
          root end to the cutting board by holding down the bunch of peel as you chop, dice or
          slice the onion. This keeps your fingers well clear of the knife blade and allows you
          to cut right up to the root.
          4. Although smelly bags of supermarket frozen onions will spread off-flavors to other
          food in your home freezer, when you chop your own onions and freeze them in a
          freezer-weight baggie, this doesn't happen. I like the convenience of having ready-to-
          cook onions instantly at hand. Because freezing breaks cell walls, they cook faster
          right from the freezer than they do freshly-cut.
          5. When I buy a big bag of onions, after prepping I freeze some raw, sauteeing the rest.
          I'll remove some to freezer containers when they are just getting golden, and
          continue the rest to caramelized before making soup and/or freezing them in small
          amounts. Because of the oil, they don't freeze rock-hard, so it's easy to pry some out
          with a fork when I want to add it to a sauce, sandwich, or whatever.

          If all else fails, make someone else do it! At times like these I wish I had kids rather than dogs. Then again, a kid will balk at eating your steak gristle and burnt toast ;-)

          1 Reply
          1. re: greygarious

            This was 15 gallons of soup onion for the salvation army. I picked the onions up between jobs, no time to prep or do anything. I had 5 homeless people helping. and no where to refrigerate. And the knifes, where whatever was available. So no pick and choose here. Needless to say it came out good, took a while but good carmelization just butter for a long time on a flat top grill. Added some sherry, broth, seasoning and we grilled 50 loafs of baguettes. Also fresh slices of some good swiss already melted on the grilled bread. This way they just heat the bread and drop on the warm soup. My contribution. I have a friend at the market and he donates 1/2 and I donate the other half. Have a friend at Publix market too and helps with the cheese and broth. My way on contributing to the community. I do this 4 times a year and volunteer the other months just 1x per month handing out food. Nice way to give back and I write it off as donations. It is as much as people think and it helps. It's not a whole dinner but it is more than some eat in a whole day. Anything can help. I got out local Sams club to donate 100 hams one weekend to go with my soup and a local vendor to donate mashed potatoes and another for hundreds of pounds of fresh corn when in season. Gourmet to most.
            Well, I'm way off subject, my apologies. Just a passion of mine.

            Well onions are still a pain in the a*s to clean and peel.

          2. My friend who has a hot dog wagon does 50 lbs at a time. He looked into the restaurant style machines, especially because he has arthritis, but the cheapest ones were $200. Don't know how desperate (or rich) you are, though! Just google onion peeler if you want.

            1. Soaking the onions in water overnight makes them easy to peel.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Channa

                Hadn't heard that one but it certainly makes sense. Thanks! I've got a bag waiting for me and will try this.

                1. re: Channa

                  Commercial processors wet the onions, makes the papery skins easier to remove.