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How to Make an Onion Holder

posted in Vegetables and Beans by Kathy Maister

For some people, chopping onions can be one of the most daunting of kitchen tasks. Nevertheless, onions are the one standard ingredient found in every cuisine around the world. There are tons of different varieties of onions available at the grocery store. It’s really impossible to learn to cook without mastering the art of cutting an onion!

There are many gadgets for sale that will hold the onion for you while you chop it. But all you really need is a cutting board and a sharp knife. Today I’m going to show you how to actually make a holder for chopping an onion out of the onion skin itself. Be sure to use a knife that you feel comfortable holding. (Big knives can be a bit scary. With practice, it does get easier!)

Cuisine at Home (August 2007) showed how to make this onion holder in their “tips and techniques” section. You really can only use this method if the onion has pretty thick skin. (You’ll see why as you read on!)

Start by cutting the onion in half from the root to the tip.

Lay the onion cut side down on the cutting board. Trim off a bit of the tip end. Leave the root end intact.

Peel back the skin leaving it attached to the root end. (If the skin is really thin this step will be virtually impossible!)

The skin will now act as a holder as you chop the onion.

Remember to make the first cuts perpendicular to the root end. Then, as you make the parallel cuts the onions will be chopped. (Remember mince is the smallest size, and then dice, then chop is the largest cut of the three.)

Be sure to keep your knuckles bent as you chop. When you get to the end, the skin will act as the holder as you finish chopping.

And as my husband would say, “Bob’s your uncle!” (That’s British for “just that easy, just that quick.”)


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1 Comment

Kathy Maister said:

Elaine G. sent me this e-mail with a great question about onion substitutions:

Greetings from Nebraska!

First, thanks for the great web site! I always learn a lot from it, and look forward to your blogs.

I do have a question about onions that I’ve never seen answered in my cookbooks or online cooking sites- how do you (or can you?) substitute one onion for another? What are the differences between red, yellow, and white? Often, I don’t have the particular onion (or scallion) called for in a recipe on hand, but usually always have yellow onions.

What might be a rule of thumb for substitution? Thank you–Elaine G.

This is a great question!
The yellow onion is also known as the “all-purpose” onion. It can be used as a substitution for almost all onions. It will be a bit stronger than some onions so you will probably want to use a bit less than the recipe calls for.

A purple onion is sweet and mild and often eaten raw. The giant white onions (often used for onion rings) are also on the sweeter side. If you were using a yellow onion instead of a purple or the white onion try to slice it very thin or use less depending on your own personal tastes.

Scallions, or green onions, are mild and decorative and are often used as a garnish. I would not substitute green onions with a yellow onion.

I have often used a yellow onion in place of shallots.

As a general rule in recipes:

1 small onion = 2 inches in diameter= 1/2 cup chopped

1 med. Onion = 2 1/2 -3 inches in diameter = 1cup chopped

1 lg. onion = 4 inches in diameter = 2 cups chopped

I hope this helps everyone! So far I have written 7 posts on onions and there is still lots more to say!

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