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Perhaps "Onion lovers" should consider a concurrent love affair with "Dried minced onions". Let's discuss places where we use them.

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First of all, you already know them. They are the magic behind the taste and texture of the McDonald's cheeseburger.

Lately I've been experimenting with their substitution for fresh-diced in various dishes, and it's enjoyable.

Some advantages seem to be:

-the sulphenic acid problem of eye burn when chopping fresh onions

-the weight of dragging fresh ones on the subway

-the long storage time vs fresh

-the taste becomes richer and more concentrated, just as in dried mushrooms

-the chewy texture that remains after reconstitution with water

-the price of fresh onions at the grocery just won't come down. Gone are the days where loss leaders ads priced them at 19 cents a pound

So... where do you use them? Where have you wanted to use them? Does the purist within you impede you from enjoying them?

For example, I've used them in several bean dishes in place of fresh. Also for "French onion dip" knockoff by barely reconstituting with soy sauce and worchestershire and adding to sour cream.

(Links to previous threads appreciated)

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  1. Kroger Value brand has a 1.76 oz container of "chopped" onion selling for $1.

    I use this ingredient liberally when I make soups, and my Bloody Mary mix.

    1. The purist within me impedes me from enjoying them. They're just not the same as regular fresh onions. I'm sorry, but I think of Mcdonald's Hamburgers, with their dehyrated onion bits on their regular burgers, when I think of dried onions. I have a feeling I may be a minority here but no thanks.

      11 Replies
      1. re: bushwickgirl

        No I agree, I hate minced onions, the flavor is so strong and disagreeable. I can get fresh for $.59 or $.69, and all types too: sometimes I want sweet, sometimes Spanish, sometimes red. A recipe doesn't seem right if I don't start by sauteing some onions. Also hate recipes that tell you to add Lipton Onion Soup Mix, did that once with meatloaf and had indigestion for days.

        1. re: bushwickgirl

          bushbaby, I agree as well. We inherited bunches of dehydrated onions when my survivalist MIL passed away. I use them in making dog food and bird food. I just tossed out the bottled garlic and garlic juice.

          1. re: Passadumkeg

            passa, i've been to some of your favorite restaurants.

            1. re: Passadumkeg

              Passadumkeg -- don't feed onions to dogs! Please read below--

              "Onion and garlic poisoning
              Onions and garlic are other dangerous food ingredients that cause sickness in dogs, cats and also livestock. Onions and garlic contain the toxic ingredient thiosulphate. Onions are more of a danger.

              Pets affected by onion toxicity will develop haemolytic anaemia, where the pet’s red blood cells burst while circulating in its body.

              At first, pets affected by onion poisoning show gastroenteritis with vomiting and diarrhoea. They will show no interest in food and will be dull and weak. The red pigment from the burst blood cells appears in an affected animal’s urine and it becomes breathless. The breathlessness occurs because the red blood cells that carry oxygen through the body are reduced in number."

              1. re: blue room

                Done.

                1. re: blue room

                  Wow, I didn't know this. No onions, garlic, chocolate, grapes. For creatures that will eat the most foul of items from the street, they are amazingly sensitive.

                  Just fed my dogs something containing garlic, small amount, but will cease and desist.

                  1. re: tcamp

                    It's dried and raw members of the allium family that are the major culprit. Cooked is less of an issue. Garlic is an ingredient in many canned pet foods..
                    Search Heinz Body anemia in dogs for specifics.

                    Dark chocolate is the most dangerous although a small amount is unlikely to cause serious trouble for an otherwise healthy dog. Some dogs can eat raisins and grapes in quantities, others can be imperiled by a single bite and to date, the mechanism of the problem is unknown so vets advise not letting dogs have any grapes or raisins.

                    1. re: greygarious

                      This is good to know (re cooked), we had been giving our elderly and now sadly deceased kitty tastes of food from the table which pretty much always had allium of some sort in it and since I read about the toxicity I had been terribly afraid we had harmed him by doing so (and cursing my lack of knowledge aforethought).

                      1. re: buttertart

                        Dogs can't eat flower bulbs either.

                        But question: How come they can't and we can?

                        *edit* eat onions and garlic that is, not flower bulbs.

                        1. re: Soop

                          I suppose it depends on the type. There are edible lily bulbs used in Chinese cooking (especially from around Shanghai) - quite good, taste sort of like a cross between an onion and a potato.

                2. re: Passadumkeg

                  Deleted my original comment. Point made by others before me.

              2. I keep a jar in the cabinet, and use occasionally, but I prefer fresh onions. Once or twice I have actually run out of onions (oh sad day!) and thrown them in a recipe. Usually, though, my (non-cooking) husband uses them. He toasts a bagel, and tops it with butter, dried minced onions, & garlic powder. Also, he occasionally makes some concoction with mayo & dried minced onions on tiny rye bread that he then toasts. Both drive me out of the kitchen.

                I think that these, like many dried ingredients, are useful for those who like them. Those who don't can easily slice their own onions.

                1. I use them ground up in BBQ rubs. That is about it. I am intrigued by your French onion dip knockoff though.

                  1. I wouldn't say I *prefer* them to fresh (which I love, raw or cooked), but they have saved the day / come in handy more than once!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: blue room

                      I agree with blue room. I have dried onion on hand mostly as a Plan B if I am unable to get to the store and am out of onion. It's Plan A in some homemade salad dressing, and I add a little bit to my melted cheese when making mac&cheese. If I think of it, I'll add some to the dry ingredients when making homemade bread.

                    2. I have a jar of Penzey's dried, minced shallots in the pantry and use it regularly to add flavor to soups, stews, meats, etc. I wouldn't use large quantities in a dish but a sprinkle adds appealing flavor and texture. OTOH, I've encountered disgusting, flavor free, aged dried onions in my MIL's cabinet. They were tossed.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: tcamp

                        I love my Penzey's dried shallots. I like to put them in dressings.

                        1. re: tcamp

                          Penzeys dried shallots are a staple in my pantry, too. There are many times when I can't find fresh shallots that are good, so these are much better to use then.

                          1. re: decolady

                            What I miss most from FEDCO: the #5 purple bags of shallots ~ Always found hanging from the baker's rack in our laundry room, by the gas water heater - they were very happy there. I miss them.

                          2. re: tcamp

                            That's all I could think of - but I love the Penzey's minced shallots!!! Shallots are pricey by me (for some reason) and most recipes only call for a little bit. Great idea to add to dressing.

                            I find it cathartic to chop an onion and I love the smell of onions cooking.

                          3. They are indispensible for chili. They have the same, consistent flavor every time, unlike fresh onions which vary widely in flavor, sweetness and acidity.

                            22 Replies
                            1. re: Perilagu Khan

                              Agree to disagree, fresh is always "more gooder". It is against the law in New Mexico to add dried onions to chile; punishable by exile to west Texas.

                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                Feast or famine, so to speak. You get the right onion and your chili might be out of this world. Get the wrong one and you've got a sucrose mess on your hands, not fit to feed to a Maine boy.

                                1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                  Forty two years ago I was in Viet Nam, but that doesn't make me Vietnamese, does it? I ain't no Maine boy, but married to a descendant of Joshua Chamberlain, who was not very hospitable to the Texans or Alabamians at Little Round Top. I'm hosting a Texas Chowhound (check our trip last April on the Austin & Texas boards) for the weekend (lots of snow) and making Hatch red chile w/ pork. for enchiladas. No onion in the chile sauce, but raw on the enchies.
                                  My bud, Dogracs, is bringing a lot of Mexican food fixin's that are difficult to find where polar bears roam down main street.
                                  Go eat a taco al pastor or lingua for me will ya?

                                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                                    Red pork chili, eh? Sounds like something that might be served in Texico. And to stay on topic, agreed on the raw onions in enchiladas. Frito pie, too. And even as a side dish with a plate of BBQ.

                                    1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                      Funny ow that you mention it, Texas BBQ places, in Lockhart, Llano, et al always serve big slices of raw onion, can't imagine, of course, a pile of dried. I just feel that dried onion is symptomatic of a general laziness in cooking; from onions to frozen pizza to frozen prepared foods in general.

                                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                                        Gosh, Josh... please halt your left flanking pivot charge from Little Round Top against dried onion lovers who may not be lazy.

                                        When I take the time to dry my own onions, it's not lazy. It's looking for the taste and sensory benefits that derive from dehydration and concentration.

                                        Onions have a very old human history. And it's possible that the dried form has been over time the predominant form. As transport and distribution facilitated the distribution of fresh and cured paper skinned onions, of course they grew in attractiveness to the consumer who could easily transport them home. They're awesome, and my kitchen is never without them.

                                        Hopefully as this thread evolves we'll learn more ways about how to use the dried forms.

                                        1. re: FoodFuser

                                          Out of ammunition? "Charge!"
                                          I just object to the ubiquitous supermarket variety.
                                          My family used dry onion skins a lot for Easter eggs, growing up.\
                                          Gimme my Ploughman's Lunch!

                                          1. re: Passadumkeg

                                            Right after Christmas I start saving onion skins to use for dyeing Easter eggs. Except for my Mom, I don't know anyone else who does that.

                                            1. re: decolady

                                              It is a common Russian-American method of dying Easter Eggs.
                                              Xretoc Voscres

                                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                My Mom has always called them Swiss Easter eggs. I never thought to ask her why. Just figured it came from her father's side of the family who are partly Swiss. Tomorrow I will try to give her a call and ask where she got that name.

                                                1. re: decolady

                                                  I talked with Mom. She said that's what her father's mother called them, so it must be part of our family heritage. Herb leaves and flowers are placed on the eggs before they are covered with the onion skins to make designs on the eggs. They are always so beautiful.

                                                  1. re: decolady

                                                    I grew up making the very ornate "Ukranian style" easter eggs. the onion skin bath was the first step, then bee's wax and a stylus and a lit candle, then multlple dying and wax layers. Beautiful little works of art. We have some that are more than 50 years old.
                                                    Gee, what did we do before the age of the micro processor?

                                                    1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                      Oh how lucky you are to know how to do that. I keep thinking I would love to learn to make them. The ones I have seen are just gorgeous. Mom reminded me that she used to use carrot fronds a lot for the decorations on ours.

                                                    2. re: decolady

                                                      as a total aside, this reminds me of a story;

                                                      A woman was preparing a roast, when a guest asked her why she was cutting it in half?
                                                      "well, it's something my mother always did. I'll ask her."
                                                      The mother was phoned and questioned. "it was always something your gandma did".
                                                      So the Granmother was called. Laughing, she replied " because the roasting tray we had wasn't big enough"

                                                      :)

                                                      1. re: Soop

                                                        I always liked that story. Probably most of us with inherited food traditions have something similar in our families. :-)

                                                2. re: decolady

                                                  We did it too, in Canada. My mother's trick. They really come out very pretty.

                                              2. re: FoodFuser

                                                Onions were always stored in a root cellar in the olden days, they last all winter long. No need to dry them for storage.

                                                1. re: coll

                                                  Coll, thanks. Duh, I still have onions down in my root cellar from the garden Spuds to. I can envision the next thread: ""Potato lovers" should consider a concurrent love affair with "Dried minced potatoes"". No thank you.

                                                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                    Thanks for the laugh!

                                                    1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                      <Deleted - someone beat me to it.>

                                                  2. re: FoodFuser

                                                    Yes. I often dehydrate my own onions. They are very useful when I happen to be out of fresh ones. I use them in chili, soups, stews and have even put them in gumbo. (Shhh. Don't tell any of my family about that last one. LOL). They work great for things like that. I don't make casseroles very much, but on occasion have rehydrated dried onions to use in those.

                                          2. re: Passadumkeg

                                            I thought it was against the law in NM to add ANY type of onion to chile!

                                        2. I'm not a big onion fan. It's a texture thing. I do usually have them on hand as SO and son and others really like them. Plus they're the basis for so many recipes.

                                          I'll use the dried in just about any recipe, when I don't have fresh - meatloaf, chili, sandwich spreads. I don't use them in soups or sauces as they don't seem to reconstitute very well. I also try to avoid the "onion soup mixes" - WAY too salty, for me.

                                          On the rare occasion I eat at McD's I always order the burger w/o the onion.

                                          1. The only time I use onion powder -- not minced dried onions -- is in a cole slaw dressing recipe where the *flavor* of mellowed, dried onions is necessary.

                                            I do not use dried onions nor dried garlic.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: shaogo

                                              "The only time I use onion powder - not minced dried onions -" is in either Creole or Cajun blends. As in Chef Paul Prudhomme's recipes, for instance. Otherwise I only use fresh onions of different varieties depending on which cuisine I'm cooking. Each variety of onion lends its own distinct quality and flavor to whatever food you're cooking. This is the time when knowledge of the cuisine and differences of varieties is important.

                                            2. I'm a big fan of Penzey's toasted onions and toasted onion powder. Onion dip and meatloaf!

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: MandalayVA

                                                I love Penzey's shallot salt - what a great flavor addition. I have used it in place of onions/salt in burgers, etc. a whole bunch of times.

                                                1. re: jeanmarieok

                                                  That salt is over the top, this summer it was sprinkled on many a tomato salad.

                                              2. i use em in soup broths when i'm feeling lazy, and am in the mood for the little bits. i've also sprinkled them over veggies with some broth and Bragg's for a "sauce."

                                                i will sprinkle onion powder on veggies as well.

                                                for those that have had the TOASTED onion powder and minced onions from Penzey's, does the toasted make a huge difference in terms of flavor? i'm considered seeking them out... TIA!

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Emme

                                                  There is a very definite taste difference between the regular onion powder and the toasted--the toasted is deeper and doesn't have that little bit of sharpness. Buy with confidence!

                                                2. I rehydrate some minced dried onion; drain off the liquid and add to softened cream cheese along with a can of chopped ripe olives (must be chopped)

                                                  I then spread on danola or other brand rectangle shaped deli ham and roll up.

                                                  Refrigerate until firm and cut into slices and serve with "cello-frills" toothpicks.

                                                  1. I've fried these little guys in oil until they're brown and crunchy, then sprinkled them on top of nasi goreng and other Indonesian dishes. You'll often find them recommended in Southeast Asian cookbooks as a shortcut to making this traditional regional garnish.

                                                    1. For all you dried onion aficionados/bread bakers, here's a good wild rice and onion bread recipe, courtesy of Peter Reinhart and thefreshloaf.com. The wild rice can be subbed for another grain, as can the dried onion for fresh, but I think the flavor of dried onion will shine in this bread:

                                                      http://www.thefreshloaf.com/recipes/w...

                                                      1. I agree w/ King of Northern Blvd about their use (ground up, for me, as onion powder) in some spice rubs, particularly for BBQ, where raw would not work as well.

                                                        I also reluctantly admit to using them occasionally in dishes for my family (4 young children) to impart some onion flavor without having one or two of my kids scream that they hate onions and refuse to eat anything "with onions in it." This, of course, is a time-limited thing...they'll learn...

                                                        We never use them for anything else. Fortunately, they have a very long shelf-life or ours would go bad for sure!

                                                        1. We had some real fun with dried onions last night.

                                                          Found out the Burger King is featuring a double cheeseburger on their dollar menu, but followup revealed that it lacked onions.

                                                          Hmmmmm.... How to bridge the gap twixt their product and the beauty of the dried-onion-laden Mcd's Double C?

                                                          The sweet SO (who is enjoying this week's quizzative dried onion quest) suggested that we take a ziploc of rehydrated dried onions to the BK, and apply them while dining inside.

                                                          A perfect suggestion. And I upped the ante with a small pocket baggie of shaved iceberg lettuce.

                                                          When we got there, we ordered 4 BK bouble cheeseburgers, with extra pickle. The "extra pickle" order ensured that the burgers would be assembled at that time, rather than coming from the holding bin.

                                                          As they were assembling, I asked for a few packs of mayo, while SO was in the background accessing some ketchup.

                                                          We got 4 burgers, unwrapped at my request as to not goop the cheese, that allowed us to blend mayo, ketchup, and bagged onions, to create a "Big Mac" sauce. Then shredded lettuce was applied. Then we wrapped them in the paper, to bring the the edge cheese up to temp.

                                                          They were really, really good. Great fun for four bucks.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: FoodFuser

                                                            Your ingenuity reduces me to stupefication.

                                                            lol

                                                            1. re: FoodFuser

                                                              welcome, foodfuser, to the depression-child-by-proxy clan! your story of prepping the four burgers was great. i'll bet it WAS the most fun you've had in an eating place in a while. ;-).

                                                              1. re: alkapal

                                                                My Depression Era Mom, now departed, would have found great fun with the frugality of the experience. She's also the one who turned me on to buying onions by the 50 pound sack, and feeling free to put a portion of it in the dehydrator.

                                                            2. I bought granulated shallots, dried shallots, and toasted dried onions from www.barryfarm.com. These are nice in salad dressings and sandwich spreads, and any time something needs "doctoring".

                                                              1. The market where I shop recently introduced a line of freeze dried herbs and spices. I’ve tried the parsley and chives and I think they rehydrate much better than the regular dried versions. I’ve used both in dishes like omelets and soup. I found that they taste pretty much like fresh. This discussion has prompted me to try the freeze dried minced onion and also the minced garlic. Has anyone else had any experience with freeze dried items?

                                                                1. I can't say as I've yet to ever purchase dehydrated anything from the allium family - and I'll be 50 soon!
                                                                  With that said, there's a place on the picturesque way to Yosemite from San Bernardino - the road takes travelers by an old camp for Japanese - starts with "M"... Well, where the road from San Bernardino ends at a "T" to catch the next leg - (it faces a mountain's base just there), if the turn is made toward the right, instead of proceeding toward the left on the journey, there's a gas station serving hot dogs (not AM/PM Arco - a mom & pop place) with what are the most astonishingly uniform reconstituted dehydrated onions offered as condiments for those hot dogs I've ever seen in my life! I've been so intrigued by them, I've wanted to travel back just to learn more for _18 years now!_ (No joke!).
                                                                  Each one is of the porportions of a playing card and just "perfect in every way" - _very many_ are the times & ways I've tried to duplicate those dimensions with fresh onions when mincing, but it has never been an achieved goal for me ((( sigh ))) Such things torment me _for 18 years now!_

                                                                  Further on this topic:
                                                                  I am enamored of the McDonald's onions so besmirched in this thread. Always "extra-extra-extra onions, please on those heartburn-inducing discs of Corporate _feed_ - who can truly call it "food"? But, the "daze" when it was all I could afford are behind me many years now - as many years as those since I've suffered the fare from there.

                                                                  The packets, soon, I hope to find gone the way of Shake-a-Puddin' & Cool Whip powder envelopes - The envelopes seem a mightily chemical-artificial this & that hodge podge unfit for human consumption, truly. "Dip Mix" - all of them: Go!

                                                                  The dehydrated foods, be it from home dehydrators, or commercially prepared bulk "emergency supply stores" have their niche - And I'd rather be with than without when/if the time ever comes - (I hope the revolution will be kind enough to provide ample time for last-minute fresh preparations! '-)
                                                                  But, beyond those extenuating circumstances, I cannot for the life of me imagine a _desire_ to live one's life consuming any previously whole & fresh produce in dehydrated form unnecessarily...
                                                                  In conclusion, the one time I recall (repeatedly recall) having those dehydrated onions on a roadside hotdog 18 years ago - the textural sensation of the uniformity of each tidbit was _so_ supremely enjoyable, as I said, I've thought to return solely to learn more about them - such as their specific source.
                                                                  So, am I a fan, or not?

                                                                  1. Burger success with dried onions.

                                                                    Made some infernal "internal onion" burgers last night. Simply added dried onions to the chunks of beef chuck going thru the grinder. They plumped with the moisture and fat as the patties were pan fried. Topped the burgers with sliced fresh red onions.

                                                                    The external crunch and sulfurous notes of the freshly sliced reds ran a counterpoint sonata to the savory chewiness of the internal dried. Delicious.

                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                    1. re: FoodFuser

                                                                      Interestingly enough, Beethoven was supposedly munching a raw Bermuda onion while he composed the Moonlight Sonata.

                                                                      1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                        Beethoven biting fresh Bermudas during composition in 1800?

                                                                        By that time in his deafness he had a wooden rod attached to the vibrating soundboard of the piano, which he would bite hard to feel the transmission of sound.

                                                                        But I'd love to hear more fact-based info about onions in 1800 Berlin/Vienna.

                                                                        1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                          beethoven ate bermuda onions during his composition of moonlight sonata? maybe that's why the music is so haunting and ... tear-jerking.

                                                                          btw, i love moonlight sonata played by wilhelm kempff.

                                                                          1st movement: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6txOv...

                                                                          3d movement: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oqSulR...

                                                                      2. I have never eaten a McDonald's cheeseburger, so I have no association of dried onions to their product. What exactly do they do with the onions that is so memorable?

                                                                        As to using dried onions, most of the ones I use are either ones I've dehydrated myself, or Penzeys dried shallots.

                                                                        One thing I like to do with them is sprinkle a few on top of a bowl of tomato soup, rather than using croutons. They add a nice little crunch and flavour. Other uses are when I don't have fresh on hand: veggie or turkey chili, soups, stews, turkey meatloaf, turkey burgers, salad dressings, sometimes in devilled egg filling or an egg salad.

                                                                        1. At the moment, I wouldn't substitute dried onion for fresh, and fresh onions certainly last long enough. Like someone said, a lot of meals wouldn't seem right without sauteeing onions as a first step.

                                                                          Dried onion is used in things like dry roasted peanuts as a flavoring and is certianly nice enough I suppose.

                                                                          1. Asian markets sell clear plastic jars of fried shallots, garlic, and red onion. These range from tiny bits like supermarket dehydrated minced, to the size bits in French's/Durkee's canned french-fried onions. They are much cheaper than the American version. Good mixed with bread crumbs for breading, topping salads and casseroles, in omelets, and as a garnish on creamed/pureed soups.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: greygarious

                                                                              Thanks for pointing that out. The asian market is always the place that I stock up on fresh shallots and garlic at a great price, but with your post I realized that I'd never explored the shelves for the dried/fried versions.

                                                                              A corollary horizon of concentrated onion-family flavors now opens.

                                                                            2. They sometimes "call to me" from my shelf because I remember them from the white-walled, steel-countered neighborhood hamburger joint of my youth. Every now and then I'll throw a few into a meat loaf. But really, that's all.