You can use an onion to clean your leather shoes.



species Allium cepa), herbaceous biennial plant and its edible bulb. The
onion is probably native to southwestern Asia but is now grown throughout
the world, chiefly in the temperate zones. The plant belongs to the lily
family, Liliaceae, most members of which have an underground storage
system, such as a bulb or tuber. Other members of this family include such
ornamental plants as the tulip, hyacinth, and lily-of-the-valley and also
such edible plants as the leek, garlic, and chive.

The common onion has one or more leafless stalks that reach a height of
0.75-1.8 m (2.5-6 feet) and terminate in a cluster of small greenish white flowers. The leaf
bases of the developing plant swell to form the underground bulb that is the mature, edible
onion. Most commercially cultivated onions are grown from the plant's small black seed, which
is sown directly in the field, but onions may also be grown from small bulbs or from transplants.
Onions are among the hardiest of all garden-vegetable plants.

Onions are among the world's oldest cultivated plants. They were probably known in India,
China, and the Middle East before recorded history. Ancient Egyptians regarded the spherical
bulb as a symbol of the universe, and its name is probably derived from the Latin unus,
meaning "one." The Romans introduced the onion to Britain and, in the New World, American
Indians added a highly pungent wild onion to their stews. Curative powers have been attributed
to onions throughout the centuries; they have been recommended for such varied ailments as
colds, earaches, laryngitis, animal bites, powder burns, and warts.

Onions are used widely in cooking. They add flavour to such dishes as stews, roasts, soups,
and salads, and are also served as a cooked vegetable. The onion's characteristic pungency
results from the sulfur-rich volatile oil it contains. Release of this oil during peeling brings tears
to the eyes, but many cooks claim that tears can be avoided by peeling onions under running

Onions vary in size, shape, colour, and pungency. Warmer climates produce onions with a
milder, sweeter flavour than do other climates.

Globe-shaped onions may be white, yellow, or red. They have strong flavour and are used
chiefly for soups, stews, and other prepared dishes and for frying.

Bermuda onions are large and flat, with white or yellow colour and fairly mild taste. They are
often cooked and may be stuffed, roasted, or French-fried. They are also sliced and used raw in
salads and sandwiches.

Spanish onions are large, sweet, and juicy, with colour ranging from yellow to red. Their flavour
is mild, and they are used raw and sliced for salads and sandwiches and as a garnish.

Italian onions are flat, with red colour and mild flavour. They are used raw for salads and
sandwiches, and their red outer rings make an attractive garnish.

Pearl onions are not a specific variety but are small, round, white onions harvested when 25
mm (1 inch) or less in diameter. They are usually pickled and used as a garnish and in
cocktails. Small white onions that are picked when between 25 and 38 mm in diameter are used
to flavour foods having fairly delicate taste, such as omelets and other egg dishes, sauces, and
peas. They are also served boiled or baked.

Green onions, also called scallions and spring onions, are young onions harvested when their
tops are green and the underdeveloped bulbs are 13 mm or less in diameter. Their flavour is
mild, and the entire onion, including top, stem, and bulb, is used raw in salads and sauces, as a
garnish, and also as a seasoning for prepared dishes.

Onions are low in nutrients but are valued for their flavour. Most whole onions are slightly dried
before marketing, making their skins dry and paper-thin. Leading world producers of dry onions
include China, India, the United States, Russia, Japan, and Turkey. Spain is the leading
European producer.

Onions are also available in various processed forms. Boiled and pickled onions are packed in
cans or jars. Frozen onions are available chopped or whole, and bottled onion juice is sold for
use as a flavouring.

Dehydrated onion products have been available since the 1930s. Processing involves
elimination of most of the moisture by heat or by freeze-drying. Such products include
granulated, ground, minced, chopped, and sliced forms. Onion powder is made by grinding
dehydrated onions and is sometimes packaged in combination with salt.

Dried onion products are used in a variety of prepared foods. They are also sold directly to the
consumer for use as condiments. The United States is the world's leading producer of dried
onion products, and the state of California is a major producer of onions developed and
cultivated for this industry.