Stillwater News Press

Garden

March 15, 2014

Seed to Table 03-16-14

Onions take other foods to flavor town

One of the most rewarding things about writing this column is that it challenges me to grow. Yes, over the years I have amassed a sizable catalogue of information and understanding about food — its production and preparation; but, there is always more to learn and I genuinely appreciate the nudge to do so that this column provides. I hope you share my passion to learn and grow.

What prompted me to write the above was today’s topic — alliums. It has truly pushed my envelope. I know them as food seasoners. I was surprised to discover that most of you probably know them as flowers. That knowledge came about as I tried to ferret out their taxonomy — a very difficult task indeed. Taxonomy has always been messy, but the whole process has been complicated by some revolutionary changes taking place within the discipline. It seems we are in the troughs of replacing the old Linnaean system (based primarily on physical appearance) with one based on gene structure.

Alliums constitute one genus in the family Amaryllidaceae and the most popular of them as food are onion (Allium cepa) and garlic (Allium sativum). Other edible alliums are leek (A. ampeloprasum), chive (A. schoenoprsum), scallion (A. fistulosum) and shallot (A. cepa).

If the name Amaryllidaceae sounds familiar it may be that you know it through its decorative flower — amaryllis. Yes, amaryllis and onion are cousins. Both are more closely related to lilies and corn than beans or tomatoes. You see members of this family are monocots. But what confused me in my taxonomic search is that the designations monocot and dicot are disappearing from the literature and being replaced by Asparagales and Magnollopsida, respectively. So, keep this shift in mind if you try to do a taxonomic search — it’s gotten more difficult.

While relatively high in vitamin C, alliums are not terribly nutritious. A whole large onion has only about 60 calories. However, they produce a number of sulfur-containing compounds which provide for their aroma and flavor and, by imparting those to other more nutritious foods, render the latter more likely to be eaten. As a restaurateur, I was surprised one day when I realized how much onion I used (second only to lettuce). Onion went into practically every dish I cooked.

Both onions and garlic store well in a cool/dry/well-ventilated place. However, I have discovered that they can be frozen for even longer storage. This is valuable information if you garden and have a surplus. I simply freeze whole garlic bulbs in plastic bags. As confirmation of this technique, I just dug some three-year-old bulbs from my freezer, sautéed them with a little olive oil and cooked pasta to enjoy an excellent light supper.

On the other hand, I must dice and sauté onions before freezing. Then, after thawing, I reheat them to drive off the water released during freezing and thawing. If I don’t do this, they impart too strong an aroma and flavor to the finished dish.

Richard A. "Dick" Ortez earned a doctorate degree from Creighton University in microbiology. During the past 40 years, he has taught elements of food science at the university and medical school levels, operated a cafe, and run a truck farm and food processing business. He writes the Seed to Table column at his farm near Glencoe and welcomes questions, comments and suggestions sent to raortez@provalue.net.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Garden
  • In the Garden 07-27-14

    Quercus is the Latin name for oak. It is a quirky name; some believe its roots came from the Celtic word for “fine tree.” Anyone familiar with oaks knows they are indeed fine trees.

    July 26, 2014

  • Farmers Market

    The Stillwater Farmers Market is open every Monday at Stillwater Medical Center from 2-5:30 p.m. and every Wednesday and Saturday in Strickland Park at the corner of Hall of Fame Avenue and Main Street from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
    What’s at market this week?

    July 23, 2014

  • Grow! 07-20-14

    Roses are a beautiful addition to any garden and landscape. They come in a variety of colors that enhance your yard. However, like other plants, roses are susceptible to disease. One that seems to hit roses the hardest is rose rosette disease caused by the rose rosette virus.

    July 19, 2014

  • Seed to Table 07-20-14

    Weed control is an important part of food production. So, I recently undertook an effort to rid my pastures of a particularly noxious weed.

    July 19, 2014

  • In the Garden 07-20-14

    Mulch is full of purpose. What it lacks in mystery, it makes up in function. Mulch contributes to healthy gardens. No one ponders or debates it, yet many do not take the time to mulch.

    July 19, 2014

  • Farmers Market 07-17-14

    The Stillwater Farmers Market is open every Monday at Stillwater Medical Center from 2-5:30 p.m. and every Wednesday and Saturday in Strickland Park from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

    July 17, 2014

  • Grow! 07-13-14

    If you have no space outdoors for a garden, don’t despair because you can still grow something consumable. Bean sprouts are the easiest and fastest crop to grow.

    July 13, 2014

  • In the Garden 07-13-14

    “Where’s the relief?” That is what I’ve been thinking all week in the garden. I water, wondering if the mist is going to cool or cook the plants. I assumed the last thing anyone would consider this week is planting — anything!

    July 13, 2014

  • Farmers Market 07-10-14

    What’s at market this week?
    Fruits and veggies: Bell peppers, beets, blackberries, cabbage, carrots, collards, cucumbers, eggplant, garlic, green beans, jalapenos, leeks, new potatoes, onions, squash, sweet corn, tomatoes and watermelon
    Baked goods: Biscotti, cakes, cinnamon rolls, cookies, muffins, pies, scones and turnovers

    July 10, 2014

  • Grow! 07-06-14

    Sometimes it can be hard to step out of your comfort zone. This is true for clothing selection, restaurant choices and even the types of plants and shrubs you put in your landscape.

    July 5, 2014

Buy & Share Photos
NewsPress e-Edition
NewsPress Specials
AP Video
Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage
Stocks
NDN Video
'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Chapter Two: Designing for Naomi Watts Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH) She's Back! See Paris Hilton's New Carl's Jr. Ad Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years
Must Read