Onion Skins: Produces butter yellow, deep yellow - add Red Onion skins for golden yellow
Source: In backyard garden or local farms and markets
The history of the onion begins some 5000 years ago or longer as a cultivated and domesticated staple for food and medicine. It's quite probable that prehistoric hunters consumed it as it grew in the wilds worldwide.
But first...In North America just a few hundred years ago, Natives used the onion as a dye plant and its botanical ingredients as medicine. The Iroquois used the Garden Onion to dye wool. The skins of green bulbs produced a green colour and yellow skins, a vivid yellow. Chopped onions were made into a syrup as a cold remedy or a juice for sore throat and coughs. The heart of the onion was placed in the ear to alleviate earache. The Great Basin Indians used the skins of wild chives to produce a golden brown dye. They used the juice as a dietary aid and to restore appetite. An onion placed inside the dwelling would draw out the fever or flu bacteria from the room. The Cherokee used an onion drink for colic babies. As a poultice, it was used to relieve chest pain, cough, pneumonia and also for hives, infected sores and swelling. A drink was also consumed to stop flatulence.
Going farther back to ancient history, it is believed to have grown in Asia, the Middle East, Iran and Pakistan.
By the Middle Ages, onions had spread across Europe as it became more popular in cooking and for medicinal purposes. By the fifteenth century, it was introduced to the New World. As early as 1494, Christopher Columbus was known to have planted the onion in present day Haiti and the Dominican Republic, known then as Hispaniola.
In North America, the onion appears as early as 1629 and by the 19th Century all types of onions are grown and cultivated.
Russian soldiers rubbed onions into battle wounds to stop and prevent infection during the Second World War.
And as legend would have it, when Satan was banished from Heaven, garlic grew on Earth where he first stepped out on his left foot and onions sprouted where his right foot touched ground. Strands of onions and garlic were placed in windows and doors to ward off evil spirits, believed to cause the plagues in Eastern Europe. Also people placed these around the neck to ward off vampires.
Today as then, the onion is still a hot commodity because of its wide, inexpensive availability and because it keeps well for long periods. It's a cooking staple around the world because of its nutritious and dietary benefits as well as medicinal proprieties.
More than 3 million hectares of land worldwide are dedicated to the cultivation of the onion with 55 million tonnes produced annually. The U.S. leads in production followed by Japan, Spain, Egypt, China and India.
Today, onions are said to protect against some infections and block cancers such as stomach cancer. Its antioxidants help prevent cardiovascular disease by reducing cholesterol and blood clots. It helps improve lung function and regulate asthma. Apparently, the more pungent the onion, the better for your health, raw or cooked.
In Ancient Babylon and Egypt, it appears prominently in cultures going back to 3500 B.C. The configuration of the numerous rings that form the sphere of the onion symbolized eternity and was therefore worshipped greatly by the Egyptians. Onions were used in mummification and placed in the tombs of Pharaohs. Onions were found in the eye sockets of Ramses IV. During this time, many art objects were created with metals but the onion was made of gold.
The Greeks used the onion some 4000 years ago, where the plant was found in the Royal Palace in Crete. It was used as medicine in the 1st Century as a disinfectant to heal sores, relieve toothache and dysentery. It was also believed to give great strength. Olympians and Gladiators ate onions, drank the juice and rubbed a poultice over their bodies before games or entering the arena. In the remains of Pompeii, baskets of onions were found at brothels where they were said to induce a "carnal desire".