A delicious story that will bring tears to your eyes!

February 24, 2016

A delicious story that will bring tears to your eyes!

A delicious story that will bring tears to your eyes!

At Tuscookany we grow our own organic onions.  Read more about the many different varieties, uses and many helpful tips and come and cook with us in Tuscany.

There is no doubt about it: the world, and Tuscookany would be different without onions. This multilayered bulb has a strong aroma with the power of strengthening a dish or being the star of the show. Onion soups, though the most famous one is French and it’s called Soupe à l'oignon, are famous across all Europe and Italians can count on several delicious versions too.

To give you a sense of the importance onions have in an Italian kitchen, let’s just say that in our Bel Paese people say “I ate onions and bread for this” to indicate a big sacrifice made.  Onions, in fact, were a very poor ingredient, a basic lifesaving vegetable,  almost the symbol of survival itself.

An onion for every season

In Italy, there is quite literally an onion for every season. In autumn and winter, you can enjoy the red onion of Tropea or the Tuscan “Vernina”, which is also red and comes from Florence, with its typical strong aroma and flavor. If you find yourself in need of a nice soffritto, you can always count on the golden onion of Parma, it’s  just perfect. And what about the red onion of Bassano del Grappa? Unforgettable, that’s for sure. In spring and summer, you can find the white “musona tonda” (round snout) and the onion of August, with its big white bulb slightly touched by red shades. And if you love white onions and are in Southern Italy, you will certainly find yourself surrounded by the so-called white giant of June (bianca gigante di giugno).

The varieties are too many to be counted, just like the recipes that are based on these magic bulbs. Generally speaking, golden onions are wonderful for soffritti and soups, with their intense flavor that makes them perfect to be cooked in the oven. On the Italian cookery course at Tuscookany we teach you how to make this famous Italian Soffritti which is the aromatic base for many sauces with onion, carrot, celery and garlic.

White onions are the ideal companions of peppers and are also a good base for dishes with a strong soul. Red onions tend to be on the sweet side and can be enjoyed cooked or uncooked, in fact you often find them in salads at the cooking vacations in Tuscany. Plus, depending on where you are, you will find people who love a specific kind of onion and use it for everything. In the province of Venice, for instance, the show is stolen by the white onion of Chioggia, which was used to preserve the fish, while not far from Naples, in Caserta, the local pizzaioli have been conquered by the onion of Alife. The sweet aroma of the onion of Montoro is the king of Salerno, while the onion borettana, famous in the Pianura Padana, is often pickled and enjoyed as a side dish. Just like I said: there is an onion for every season!

An ancient vegetable

It turns out onions truly save lives, because they contain quercetin, a flavonoid that can prevent osteoporosis, a remedy against asthma and viral diseases that also has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-carcinogenic properties. These qualities were known in ancient times too: in ancient Egypt it was thought that this incredible bulb could bring the dead back to life. The onion became even a "coin" when, during the middle ages, it was used by the poor to pay the rent.

On many occasions in the past onions were thought to have real magical powers. It is said that during various flu epidemics, but also in some cases of plague, a few families of farmers escaped the contagion. Some doctors noted the people counted on a diet based mainly on onions and began to claim the bulb had some mysterious power. All considered, today the qualities of the mystical onion are too often underestimated.

Are you ready for some other onion-related useful curiosity and tricks the Tuscookany’s chefs know about?

How to mitigate the strong smell of the famous vegetable?

A trick of the Italian grandmothers is to let them rest for a few minutes in boiling milk. The onion does not lose the flavor, the time is not enough to cook, but the smell is greatly weakened.

Why do onions make you cry and how to avoid this unpleasant experience?

The onion contains sulfuric acids that get released only when we cut the vegetable and end up attracting and combining with liquids - think about the tear glands. The nerves perceive the acids and send a message to the brain. The trick, known for ages, well before people knew chemistry or biology, is to give the acids other liquids with which they can interact, besides our tears. Italian grandmothers used to wet their forearms before cutting onions and keep near them a bowl of water, in order to divert the acids. Nowadays there are other remedies, like putting the vegetable in the freezer for a few minutes or using swimming goggles.

Other tricks are based on our body's needs.

The juice of onions is a tonic against acne, a wonderful potion for your skin. Mashed onions, honey and a dash of cognac make a very effective remedy against coughs. Before shampooing, you can apply mashed onions on the scalp and leave them to act for 20 minutes: you will avoid hair loss and they can be used to treat head lice.

Raw onion rubbed on an insect sting helps with the burning, the itching and the swelling. The same remedy applied on a scar guarantees it won’t leave an indelible mark on the skin. Plus, onions contain sulfur, which prevents intestinal fermentation and helps your belly with its daily work. It seems you can even use an onion to get rid of grass and mud stains from the shoes and stains of ashes from clothing.

Is there anything onions can’t do?

Want to share your thoughts on onions? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below:


Interested in our cooking courses at one of our Tuscan villas?

Do you want to enjoy our Tuscany cooking classes with plenty of time to explore in your free time, all while staying in an amazing villa?

Availability Enquiry


How our guests experienced the Tuscookany courses

Reviews from our former guests made about their visit to Tuscookany on TripAdvisor, facebook, Twitter, Google, Chow and Yelp.

More reviews