Is an Onion a Fruit or Vegetable?

There's been a flurry of doubts about if an onion is a fruit or vegetable, which we will dissect and come to understand here...
NutriNeat Staff
Who doesn't love a good generous helping of onions? I know a lot of people who detest the taste of onions, avoiding anything that would have this in it. There are many varieties that are seen and eaten worldwide, with the most common of them being spring onions, white onions and red of course. It is known for its sweet flavor that can be eaten raw in its crunchy form, or cooked and added to a dish to give it character. Without onions a lot of dishes would be incomplete, since it offers a unique twist in taste when used in the right amounts. I for one find onions to be extremely important in any dish preparation, being a very versatile food to work with. You can add these to main course meals, as a caramelized garnish, or as a sauce base. It can have quite a powerful kick in flavor when eaten raw, where its undertones need highlighting. That is where cooking comes in, to melt down its sharp taste and up its sweetness.

So is an onion a fruit or vegetable then? It is in fact a vegetable, a ground one to be exact. It may not be eaten plain like other vegetables that can be the main ingredient of the meal, but it is an accompaniment that brings out the best in a dish. A type of onion called sweet onions are known for their sweet tasting content, making them edible in a way that one would eat fruit. It has less sulfur based compounds making it more gentle to one's taste buds. There are many ways in which you can use onions, where it can be reduced to a powder made for cooking and can be pickled as well.

Why Onions are Classified as Vegetables and Not Fruits

Some people may have mistaken the onion for a fruit, since it can be eaten raw and can have a sweet tasting flavor to it that makes it easily edible without it being cooked. Not all onions have a sharp flavor, making it edible enough to be eaten plain or with a bit of sauce or a sprinkle of spices/herbs. Like mentioned earlier, sweet onions have been known to be eaten like fruits, thus confusing the masses who are fond of this vegetable. A fruit has a distinct quality to it - where all of them come with seeds. Be it a single deep-set seed within its core, or content that is studded with these, a fruit always has seeds to make it a fruit. Vegetables on the other hand do not come with seeds within their mass, making them separate food sources from fruits. Also, almost all fruits have a sweet taste to it with very few bordering on bitter, tangy flavors. Nonetheless, vegetables are not entirely sweet and can be quite bland if not added with other ingredients.

Origin of Onions

Asia is said to be the land of the onion, originating in parts of this continent where they were used as a rich relish known for its pungent flavor. It didn't easily spoil, making people see it as a very withstanding vegetable especially during the cold winters. It is said that the Egyptians worshipped the onion, taking its shape and circled insides as the circles of eternity. It was even made out of gold when the artists in Egypt would depict vegetables from precious metals. Being very high in nutritional value, the onion is recognized today as an essential ingredient in cooking. It can be eaten raw in some cases or used in cooking, mimicking an important spice more than a prime food in a dish.

Types of Onions

It is interesting to know how many varieties of onions there are, especially when we're used to only a few common ones in the market place. With such an expansive list of onion types, it is no wonder how onions have been known for being an important part of dishes, adding its own unique take on flavors that are part of a meal's ensemble. Some of the different kinds include shallots, brown onions, leeks, pickling onions, Spanish onions, white onions, scallions, red onions, yellow onions and green onions.

We discover that this root vegetable is no ordinary food source. Mix it up a little in the kitchen and find new ways of how to use onions in a dish, to make it exceptionally delicious. Don't be afraid to try out other kinds of this vegetable and discover how they all range in terms of flavor and use. It makes for a great ingredient and can be used in more ways than one.
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