The onion, also known as the bulb onion or common onion, is a vegetable that belongs to the genus Allium and is the most widely cultivated species. The shallot is a botanical variety of the onion that was previously classified as a distinct species until 2010. Garlic, scallion, leek, chive, and Chinese onion are close relatives.
This plant is native to Central Asia, but it can now be found all over the world. Onion cultivation began 7000 years ago, resulting in the development of numerous varieties of onions that differ in size, shape, color, and taste. Onion grows in temperate climates on sandy, well-drained soils. Aside from its high nutritional value, onion has a positive impact on human health.
The onion can grow to be 1 to 4.5 inches in diameter. The heaviest onion ever recorded weighed 10 pounds and 14 ounces.
The onion grows a root, a bulb, and green leaves. The bulb is an edible part of the onion that is made up of tightly packed leaves. The outside leaves are dry and firm. They shield the inner, moist, and soft leaves.
The bulb stops producing new leaves 6 to 8 months after planting. Nutrients from the leaves descend to the bulb, which matures and is ready for harvesting.
The onion can be round, egg-shaped, or torpedo-shaped. Onions are classified into three types based on their color: yellow, red, and white onions.
Onions are high in vitamin C, manganese, potassium, and phosphorus. It has a low caloric value and a high fiber content.
Onions can be eaten raw (as in salads), cooked, or pickled.
The act of slicing an onion is always associated with tears. During the slicing process, the onion releases sulfur, which reacts with the moisture in the eyes to form sulfuric acid. This acid causes a painful sensation, and tears are produced by the eyes to remove it.
In ancient Egypt, the onion was worshiped. These plants were an unavoidable part of burial rituals, and most rulers’ tombs are covered with images of onions. The Egyptians believed that the onion possessed magical powers and could ensure success in the afterlife. Along with parsley and garlic, onions were even used as currency.
In the sixth century BC, onion was used as a diuretic, to improve digestion, and to ensure the health of the heart, eyes, and joints in India.
During the 1st century AD Olympic Games in Greece, onion was used as a strength booster.
Every year, approximately 50 million tons of onions are produced. The average person consumes 13.7 pounds of onions per year. In Libya, the average person consumes 66.8 pounds of onions per year.
An onion slice can be used to soothe insect bites and skin burns. Slices of onion can be used to treat warts when combined with crushed aspirin and a little water.
Onion-derived quercetin, phenols, and flavonoids have antimicrobial and anti-cancer properties. They are also effective in the treatment of cataracts and cardiovascular diseases.
Silverware and other metal objects can be polished with crushed onion.
Domesticated onion varieties are grown as annual plants, meaning they are harvested in their first year of life.