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"A medium yellow onion..." = yecch!

I've come across a number of recipes herein that call for "medium yellow onion."

I've always used either Vidalias or, if they're not available, the huge yellowish-white "chef's" onions.

My questions are as follows:

a) do any other chowhounds hate the crummy yellow things that come in the mesh bags? I certainly do.

b) do you find yourself using *more* onion than recommended in a recipe for soups, stews, etc.?

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  1. I'm kinda with you here. I use white onions more often than not unless the yellow ones are SUPER cheap on sale. I use red/green for using fresh (salads, salsas, cold dishes etc) and white ones for cooking. One of my friend's little abuelita told me that she only used white onions for cooking. She was an amazing cook, from moles to soups to potato salad. Over the past 5 years or so, I find myself enjoying cooked foods more when white onions are used.

    1. We cook with a variety of onions: Vidalia, large whites, Spanish, shallots and Bermudas. Vidalias, Spanish, shallots and Bermudas for cooking whereas the white ones and Bermudas are used in salads, etc.

      1. I grew up with onions being a rarity (my father hates them after spending a summer in college on an onion farm), so my mom would have to sneak them into things.

        I've never really noticed a difference between the yellow onions in a mesh bag and other cooking onions - except for vidalia's, which I buy whenever possible. Now I'm going to pay closer attention.

        The bag of giant yellow onions at Costco that don't necessarily say "Vidalia", are those good?

        11 Replies
        1. re: tzurriz

          Yep. Costco may sell 'em in a bag, but so long as they're the size of softballs, *those* are the onions I mean.

          They're superb.

          1. re: shaogo

            oh good, because that is what I normally use. :)

            1. re: tzurriz

              jfood loves the 8-10# bags of sweetonions at costco, either walla-walla or vidalias. He makes a big vat of onion soup or caramelized onion rounds to freeze for his hamburgers.

              1. re: jfood

                Caramelized onion rounds? Just to clarify, you take an onion slice with all the rings and let it caramelize the way you would regular chopped/sliced onion pieces in a pan? Just flip it once maybe in the pan with a spatula?

                Or are you saying that you break onion slices into the rings and caramelize those?

                1. re: Allice98

                  Oops sorry.

                  Jfood loves fried onions on his burgers, but not the boiled stuff many restaurants try to pawn off. He caramelizes an 8-10# bag of onions for maybe 2 hours. Then he places them in a round pancake like fashion (the size of a hamburger) on a baking sheet and place them in the freezer. Once frozen he wraps them individually in plastic wrap and into a freezer bag. When he grills his burgers he takes one out of the bag, into a little foil and onto the grill with the burgers.

                  1. re: jfood

                    Thanks! It was just such an interesting thought that i needed to find out more! I will have to remember that for my veggie purgers and on top of grilled portabellas. I have frozen the onions before just never thought to di it int he round like that. Fabulous idea!

                    1. re: Allice98

                      glad to help. two items jfood should mention. When they are frozen they look a little like chocolate chip cookies so warn the other members of the household they are not for late night snacking. Second, teenagers and college kids love them, so if you have them in the house the life expectancy of theonions is waaaay less.

                      1. re: jfood

                        jfood you probably could have patented this idea and sold bags of your frozen caramelized onions. It's tips like this that keep me coming back to chowhound. Thanks for sharing! :)

                        1. re: maplesugar

                          Chowhound is a zero sum game for jfood, he receives as much as he tries to offer.

                          Glad you enjoyed.

                    2. re: jfood

                      What a great idea! I plan to adopt this!

                      ~TDQ

                  2. re: jfood

                    this is a phenomenal idea.... I'm so stealing it!

            2. This is really more of a Home Cooking board question, but regardless:

              a) No, I have no problem with them. I use all sorts of onions, but in general I like the extra bite that yellow onions offer over Vidalia. The whole "sweet onion" thing seems kind of oxymoronic and pointless to me.

              b) Yes, I often increase the amount of onion in a stew. I find that long, slow cooking encourages them to disintegrate into a rich, flavorful gravy.

              6 Replies
              1. re: BobB

                I find that Vidalias and big whites loose flavor when cooked, I eat them raw alot and use yellows for more pungent oniony flavor, essential in so many dishes.

                  1. re: missclaudy

                    I agree re: Vidalias, I only use them raw or very quickly grilled. But I absolutely disagree when it comes to white onions. I find that the huge white onions - I'm talking bigger than softball size - are the very best for caramelizing and all sorts of slow cooking. They are very sharp and pungent raw but turn super sweet when slowly sauteed. Maybe I get a different variety in my store than you do.

                    To the original question, I rarely use large yellow onions, and almost never use the small yellow ones. I never buy the ones in a bag. If I want a smaller onion because of the smaller thickness of the rings, I buy a small white or maybe a small yellow, but the loose ones.

                    1. re: lisavf

                      Thanks, lisavf!

                      You've put into words what I was trying to convey about the big onions.

                      I have a recipe for a veal stew that's a go-to dinner party dish, and it depends on the ability of those onions to turn from onions into dark-amber, sweet-melted goodness!

                      1. re: shaogo

                        Well, I live alone, and one small yellow onion is just perfect when I want to make one bowl of french onion soup. Yeah, I cheat and use packaged beef broth or bouillon, but I slice my onion and grill it for a nice combination of sweet and sharp. A nice homemade crouton, and some shredded cheese, and I have some nice comfort food in less than ten minutes.

                        I like other onions - Spanish, Vidalia, white, red, whatever - as well, but I've got nothing against the little yellow ones.

                      2. re: lisavf

                        I on the other hand depend on small yellow onions - brown, really - as the backbone of most of my braising, with reds doing salad duty. Big yellows (or big ANYthings) are kind of a waste; unless I'm cooking for plenty of company, I'll use half and stick the rest in the fridge, where it may disappear until it's fuzzy and blue. I do not like Vidalias at all, finding them wimpy.

                  2. I use yellows for a lot of recipes, and I usually add more than is called for because I love onions. I love red onions and Vidalias, too, but where I am , the yellows are readily available & usually fairly good. I also agree with another poster that Vidalias can be too sweet for me in some uses.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: elfcook

                      The yellow Spanish onions is my default onion so I always keep a bag of them in my cold cellar. I only use Vidalias when they will be served raw and while onions are reserved for Mexican and Indian recipes.

                        1. re: c oliver

                          yeah but if you store them correctly they will last a while.

                        2. re: Kelli2006

                          *Brief envy of 'cold cellar' from L.A.*

                          (But not enough to accept the other temperature issues that often go with the ability to have a 'cold cellar'! Why don't we have more caves here?!)