Thursday, February 25, 2010

Advice Please, Friends

I went through a nice creative burst last week, but I'm back to the food block. I haven't been creating new recipes this week. I was so out of ideas that twice I had to go to my husband for advice on what to make for dinner. We know he always says the same thing. Monday night it was turkey burgers. Last night it was pasta. Yeah, so much for that cut back on the processed starch thing. I just needed to make something.

Anyway, I decided to pull out my Fake Arrabiata recipe*. I wanted something a little spicier.

I went shopping after work. I had no ingredients at home to make it, so I had to buy almost everything. I bought the sausage, the canned tomatoes, the pasta, and the onions.

Now here is where I need advice.

I came home and started prepping dinner. I began chopping my onions with a freshly-sharpened knife (better to keep the tears down with). I was shocked to find that the onions were dry and rubbery. They were not fresh at all.

I had picked the onions for their size. I wanted two medium-sized onions and I picked through the bins until I found two that were the right size and appeared unblemished. I had no clue they were past their prime.

I realized then that I really don't know how to tell a fresh onion from a not-so-fresh onion.

So tell me, my food-experty friends, how can you tell an onion is fresh when you're buying it? What indicators are there on onions that let you know if it's old or not?

*Okay. My fake arrabiata recipe wasn't exactly what I used. That one consisted of already-made sauce. Want a quick version of the recipe I used last night? Saute onions in olive oil. Add garlic and about three crushed dried chili peppers and a pinch of red pepper flakes. When it's softened up, add about 4 cloves minced garlic and cook till fragrant. Add 4 links of spicy chicken sausage removed from the casing break up and brown well. Then add 2 cans of crushed tomatoes along with a little salt and pepper. Let simmer for a half and hour.


Jeff Hickmott said...

Hi, thanks for stopping by my blog, and for the positive comments. I just asked my mother, as she is a great cook, and she said there's really no hard and fast rule about freshnees of onions other than the skin being really shiny and the onion should have literally no give when squeezed. If it gives a bit, it's probably past its best.


The Blonde Duck said...

I have no idea. I make Ben chop the onions because I always do it wrong and cry.

Melissa said...

I don't know either. I do what Jeff's mom said - look for shine and no dents or parts that "give." I can also say I tend to pick up larger onions from the normal grocery stores, not small or medium. Those always tend to be rubbery as you described.

Lo said...

I look for firm onions that are fully covered with shiny skin. I poke particularly at the stem end, since that's often where they start getting soft first.

My issue with storage onions (and garlic) at this time of the year is that they seem prone to sprouting. Picking through and removing the sprouts is just drudgery, if you ask me! Can't wait for a fresh batch of new onions, that's for sure!

The Duo Dishes said...

A fresh onion is definitely firm to the touch. If it's squishy, it has already started to break down. The shiny skin is probably true too. It's a bummer to get a dunce veggie. :(

Emily said...

I have no idea. I don't think I've ever had this problem before.

Sue will know!

Sue said...

I'm so sorry I'm so late to the party! Forgive me!

FIRM onions is the number one thing to look for and they should be smooth and the skin should be really tight. You should have to fight them a little to get the peel off.

Having said that, there are times that I think onions are fine and, just like you, I get them home and they're not! But pick the hardest ones you can and it should cut down on that.

The other thing that's important is how to store them. They should be kept in a cool, dark place with good circulation. You had just bought your onions, so that wasn't the problem. And I actually keep my onions in the fridge, because I'm convinced it cuts down on the tears But I know that may make them a bit softer sooner.

we are never full said...

i agree w/ most here: firmness, tight skin - HA! sounds like how i'd like my face and butt!

the truth is, sometimes, even w/ what looks and feels like a good onion, i've cut into it and found that some of it is brown. but stick w/ the firm and tight ritual and i think you'll 9 out of 10 times be ok. interesting question!