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Untitled Blog Entry (13/06/2007 18:03)
Good morning dear friends.
If you do not know enough about onions, you has to read this!
Onions are available in fresh, frozen, canned, pickled, and dehydrated forms. Onions can be used, usually chopped or sliced, in almost every type of food, including cooked foods and fresh salads, and as a spicy garnish; they are rarely eaten on their own but usually act as accompaniment to the main course. Depending on the variety, an onion can be sharp and pungent or mild and sweet.
Onions pickled in vinegar are eaten as a snack. These are often served as a side serving in fish and chip shops throughout Britain. Onions are a staple food in India, and are therefore fundamental to Indian cooking. They are commonly used as a base for curries, or made into a paste and eaten as a main course or as a side dish.
Tissue from onions is frequently used in science education to demonstrate microscope usage, because they have particularly large cells which are readily observed even at low magnifications.
Evidence suggests that onions may be effective against the common cold, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and other diseases. They contain anti-inflammatory, anticholesterol, anticancer, and antioxidant components such as quercetin.
In many parts of the world, onions are used to heal blisters and boils. A traditional Maltese remedy for sea urchin wounds is to tie half a baked onion to the afflicted area overnight. In the morning, the spikes will be in the onion. In the United States, products that contain onion extract (such as Mederma) are used in the treatment of topical scars.
In homeopathic medicine, Allium cepa is used for rhinnorhea and hay fever.
As onions are sliced, cells are broken, allowing enzymes called alliinases to break down sulfides and generate sulfenic acids (amino acid sulfoxides). Sulphenic acids are unstable and decompose into a volatile gas called syn-propanethial-S-oxide. The gas dissipates through the air and eventually reaches the eye, where it reacts with the water to form a dilute solution of sulfuric acid. This acid irritates the nerve endings in the eye, making them sting. Tear glands produce tears to dilute and flush out the irritant.
Supplying ample water to the reaction prevents the gas from reaching the eyes. Eye irritation can, therefore, be avoided by cutting onions under running water or submerged in a basin of water. Rinsing the onion and leaving it wet while chopping may also be effective. Chilling or freezing onions prevents the enzymes from activating, limiting the amount of gas generated. Using a sharp blade to chop onions will limit the cell damage and the release of enzymes that drive the irritation response.
The volume of sulphenic acids released, and the irritation effect, differs among Allium species.
A firm in Toronto, Canada, attempted to utilize this property of onions in the manufacture of a form of tear gas for civilian use. It was marketed in 1991 but was unsuccessful as it had an effective shelf life of only three months.
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