It’s September now and plant life is slowing down for the autumn. But, for vegetable growers, September is a bumper month for reaping the harvest. Runner beans, tomatoes, potatoes, courgettes – the list goes on. But another vegetable that should be ready to pick is the humble onion.
Though it’s now grown all over the world, the common or garden onion originated in Asia. We’ve been cultivating onions for thousands of years. Over that time we’ve bred many different varieties each with their own unique colour and taste.
You might not have spent much time wondering about onions but they are fascinating vegetables. Let’s find out all about them with this list of onion facts:
- In ancient Egypt the onion was a holy symbol. The Egyptians thought that its concentric rings were a symbol of eternity
- The onion was once believed to be an aphrodisiac. It was thought so powerful that celibate priests were not allowed to eat an onion in case it led them into temptation
- In mediaeval Europe onions were used as currency. In Siberia this continued well into the 18th Century
- Onions have been used as medicine. Their juice is an antiseptic which kills germs. It also improves blood circulation. Rub an onion onto your cold feet and the blood will rush there, warming them up
- They’re also used as air fresheners. Place a cut onion in a room and any bad smells will soon be gone – or is it that the smell of the onion masks them? Either way, they work
- Cutting an onion may well make you cry. That’s because the onion releases sulphur which mixes with the moisture in our eyes to form sulphuric acid. To get rid of the acid our eyes produce tears
- About 86 million tonnes of onions are grown each year. They’re one of the world’s most popular crops
- They’re a very healthy food. The average onion has just 30 calories. They also contain complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, fibre and no fat whatsoever
If you’re keen on growing your own vegetables then take a look at our free to play gardening quizzes. There are 40 in all on topics as varied as bulbs, herbs, fruits and vegetables. Have a go and see if you really know your onions!