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Help: Onions tasting of soap that ruin my dish!

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Yesterday was the second time in recent memory where I made a dish consisting of onions, only to find out when eating that the onions tasted of soap. I tried finishing the rest of it while avoiding the offending onions, but of course the enjoyment is greatly compromised. What was to be a nice dish of pork chops, onions and tomatoes became something with a disgust factor.

I recall that the other time was a bag of organic red onions, and I attributed that to faulty handling/storage because it might be an item that does not have a high turnover. However, this time around, it was just a bag of yellow onions, and from another continent (Europe) too.

Anyone have had such experience or can offer an explanation? It is annoying because, unlike other ingredients, I could not possibly have tasted them before adding them into the dish. The onions still stung my eyes like normal onions when I cut them.

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  1. Did you cut them well in advance of actually cooking with them? Was there any green on or inside the onion (like a sprout)?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Shaw Oliver

      No, I usually cut them last minute right before cooking, and no, I don't think there were any noticeable green parts or sprouts.

      I am hoping someone can tell me if the soapy taste was the result of some chemical reaction that the onions might have gone through.

    2. Why couldn't you taste them first? Did you add the onions raw or did you cook them first?

      3 Replies
      1. re: pdxgastro

        I typically add all the ingredients into the pan at more or less the same time, stir-fry style. So yes, they are raw when I add them to the rest of the ingredients. I could have, from now on, cook and taste the onions separately first, but that would be so inefficient (for what I do) and different.

        It is more that I keep forgetting it could happen and I get unpleasantly surprised every time it does.

        1. re: tarteaucitron

          Cooking onions seperately so that you can taste them is goofy - no one should have to do that.

          The only reason I ask about them being slightly green and sitting around or a while is that green onions or scallions (same thing) can get soapy tasting if they sit around for a while after being cut. Cilantro has a very soapy taste to some people but I don't think there's any real relation to the allium family and cilantro.

          Interesting.

          The only thing I can think of is that the particular batch you got was different from what you're used to. Of course, don't add these onions to your dinners in the future...

          1. re: Shaw Oliver

            In that case, it might be that I have included a half-onion that has been sitting around, something I tend to do without thinking.

            Thanks and will pay special attention in the future, hopefully avoiding the same problem. It *is* interesting that not too many others seem to have come across this issue.

      2. I store my onions in the refrigerator and routinely have a half an onion in a baggie or container there. I have cooked for 40 years and have never tasted a soapy onion or scallion but I no longer use leeks because they always taste soapy to me. Cilantro doesn't - it's horrible but not soapy.

        1. I just started to make some onion soup. I decided to be lazy and chopped all the onions in my food processor then put in the water with some bouillon powder. Then I tested the flavor, and major yuck!!!!!! I have never had such a nasty flavor. So I nibbled on the remains of the onion, and it had a horrible taste to it.

          They looked perfectly normal and fresh, and I just bought them recently. I had stored them in refrigerator. They were definitely not green. Just standard yellow onions.

          So I was browsing the net to see if anyone had had a similar experience. I wonder if that is why they were on sale. Probably rather than disposing of nasty onions, they thought they would just sell them real quick. HEB has no scruples; it wouldn't surprise me.

          But why they tasted so foul, I don't know. Kind of annoying though when you think you have food in the house, and then it turns out to be inedible. :-(