In this issue...
  • Tip of the Month
  • From Our Friends
  • Around the Farm
  • From Jeanie's Kitchen
  • Q & A: More on Tearless Onions
  • Fun Onion Facts
  • Send Us Your Product Reviews!
  • About Dixondale Farms

  • Affiliations
    Many Ways to Enjoy Your Onions August 2008

    Bruce & Wife Dear Fellow Gardener,

    It's easy to understand why the onion has been cultivated continuously for more than 6,000 years. While the jury's still out on whether eating onions really makes you braver, and the idea that they'll grow hair on a bald head seems dubious, it's a fact that the onion is one of the most versatile vegetables in the garden.

    They provide an ideal foundation for meat and poultry dishes, soups, salads, and stews, and can be prepared in many different ways, including chopped, sliced, ground or minced. Pastes prepared by grinding onions with spices are savored in many countries, and these all-around alliums form the basis of gravies and sauces in a number of world cuisines. The rings come apart easily for frying, making them popular as a side dish in American cuisine and as decorations in Central Europe.

    Colors, Flavors and Types. White onions are the type most commonly used in cooking, as they tend to have a finer flavor than their colored cousins. Full-flavored yellow onions can enliven virtually any dish, often adding sweet overtones, while red onions work very well in fresh salads and as accents, and make a delectable choice for grilling or charbroiling.

    Some Basics. Raw onions can turn bitter if not quickly used; this is especially the case if they're added to sauces and pastes, which should either be made fresh and used immediately, or preserved by adding a small amount of vinegar or lemon juice to the mix. Similarly, sautéing onions on high heat can bring out the bitter flavor, so be sure to cook yours on medium or low heat. This will help them become more sweet and aromatic.

    By the way, cutting onions needn't be a tearful experience. Check out our Q&A section for tips on how to cut up an onion without crying.

    Dehydrating Your Onions. You can dehydrate onions to make them easier to store. First, trim the bulb ends and remove the papery skins, then slice them 1/8-1/4 inch thick. Dry them at 160 degrees Fahrenheit for 1-2 hours; then dry them at 130 degrees until completely dry, whereupon they should feel papery in texture. Package them in airtight containers and store them in the freezer to keep them from absorbing moisture; otherwise, they may deteriorate.

    Dried onions can be added straight to liquid dishes like stews or soups, but you should rehydrate them by soaking them in cool water for an hour before adding them to drier dishes such as casseroles and stir-fries. Rehydrating them also increases potency, since dried onions release their flavor more readily than freshly-chopped onions.

    Freezing Your Onions. Frozen onions will keep for 3-6 months, so freezing them is a reasonable method of preservation -- and it's simple, too. Just wash and peel your onions, then chop them into half-inch cubes. Put them into freezer bags and package them as flat as possible, to hasten freezing and to make it easy to break off chunks as needed. For most recipes, especially soups, stews, casseroles, and such, they don't need to be thawed before use.

    These are just a few of the many ways you can enjoy your onions. We're sure you can think of more!

    Happy harvesting,

    Bruce "Onionman" Frasier

    Tip of the Month
    Avoiding Neck Rot

    This month we're providing an important onion tip instead of an onion of the month.

    Neck rot, which is caused when soil-borne organisms invade a poorly-dried neck, is one of the most common diseases to strike stored onions. To help avoid it, spray your growing onions every 10 days with a fungicide like Mancozeb or Seacide. When harvesting, wait until the tops dry and fall over, then pull up the plants and let them dry in the sun for half a day before clipping the tops to one inch and then letting the cut area dry for 1-2 days. For longer drying and curing, spread your onions out in a dry place out of the sun, allowing 2-3 weeks for complete drying.

    Your onions are dry enough when the skin is papery and takes on a uniform color. The entire neck should be dry, and shouldn't slide when pinched between forefinger and thumb. Put the dried onions in a well- ventilated area with plenty of room around the individual onions, so the air can flow freely around them, and check them regularly.

    onions with power tools From Our Friends

    Our friend Lynn from Crockett, Texas tells us, "Had a good onion harvest, as you can see. These are Granex and Contessa...hung 'em in a tree in my creek till they dried and stuck 'em in these pantyhose and kneehighs...keeps really good in my storeroom. I've been buying onions from ya'll since 1975, with very few crop failures...and when it did, you replaced the failures, no questions asked. I'll continue to buy my onions from ya'll 'till they plant me!"

    We love hearing from our customers. Send us your favorite "onion photo" and we'll try to include it in a future newsletter, our next catalog or our upcoming online Photo Album. Click here for details on how to submit your photos.

    Around the Farm
    What We're Up To Lately!

    This past year has been a busy one for Dixondale Farms, so we wanted to update you on projects we're working on during our "off" season. First and foremost, we try to take some time off to spend some quiet time together. Harvesting seven days a week for 10 straight months mandates a brief rest! We're still available to you, but we temporarily adjust our customer service hours from 9-4 CDT.

    The farm is busy now with land preparation, as well as with installing two new pivot irrigation systems. One of our main projects is determining seed requirements and sourcing seed for the next year. It seems that acquiring certain varieties is getting more difficult each year; and since it takes two years to produce onion seed, we need to stay ahead of the game and make our plans years ahead.

    As always, we love to hear from our customers, and we definitely take your opinions and suggestions into account when preparing new products or services.

    From Jeanie's Kitchen
    Texas Onion Casserole

    • 4 large, sliced sweet onions
    • 6 ounces of crushed potato chips
    • 2 cups of grated cheddar cheese
    • 2 cans of condensed cream of chicken soup
    • 1/2 cup of milk

    Layer the onion slices, potato chips, and grated cheese in a large baking dish, holding back a handful of chips after repeating the layering. Then mix together the soup and milk thoroughly before pouring the mixture over the top of the layered ingredients. Top the dish with the rest of the crushed chips, and bake it at 350 degrees for an hour.

    Makes 6 servings.

    Q & A: More on Tearless Onions

    Q. How can I cut onions without the tears?

    A. Follow these steps for tearless onions.

    • Cut your onions with a very sharp knife, so fewer cells are disrupted. This releases less of the tear-causing substance.
    • When you cut your onions in half, immediately rinse each side in cold water.
    • Whenever you're cutting or chopping onions, keep your face as far away from the active area as you can.
    • If you breathe through your mouth instead of your nose while chopping, the gas that causes the tears is less likely to get to your eyes.
    • Either chill or cook the onion before cutting it.
    • Cut your onions in a basin or sink full of water.
    • If things really get bad and nothing else works, wear goggles that cover your eyes completely when chopping onions.

    Fun Onion Facts

    According to tradition, the city of Chicago got its name from the local Indian word for the wild onions that once grew around Lake Michigan. However, it turns out that "She-gau-gawnish" is actually the Chippewa word for the ramp, a kind of wild leek. Oh well -- close enough!

    Send Us Your Product Reviews!

    In addition to sending us photos of your onions, we encourage you to give us feedback on our products via the Product Review options on the Web site. You'll find a "write your own review" link on every product page. Don't be shy -- we need your opinions!

    About Dixondale Farms

    As the largest and oldest onion plant farm in the US, Dixondale Farms offers a wide selection of top-quality, disease-free, ready-to-plant onion plants. To see our complete product line, request a catalog, or for growing tips and cultural information, visit our Web site by clicking here.

    Whether you're planting one bunch or thousands of acres, we're committed to your success. If you have either questions or suggestions, we'd love to hear from you. You can reach us from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM Central Time, during August at 877-367-1015, or e-mail us any time at

    phone: 877-367-1015
    Email Marketing by