Onions are the most used flavouring vegetable in the world. Most savoury dishes include one of the onion family – white and red onions, garlic, chives, shallots, spring onions and leeks. All of these vary enormously in shape, size, colour, texture and intensity of flavour.

These are the most common onions and are available all year round. They are strongly flavoured, firm onions with layers of golden brown paper skins and white flesh. Generally used for cooking rather than eaten raw. The most common varieties are Pukekohe Long Keeper and Pukekohe Early Long Keeper.

Red onions have burgundy red skins and red tinged flesh. Spanish type red onions are large and round, while Californian red onions tend to be flatter and milder. They are mild, sweet and juicy and are delicious eaten raw in salads, used as a garnish or added to sandwiches. Globe shaped red onions are becoming available; they are more pungent and taste more like a main crop onion.

White onions tend to be more pungent than brown onions and have white papery skin. They can be used in place of other onions in savoury dishes or finely chopped and served raw in salads and salsas.

Small, main crop onions with a strong pungent flavour. They are available all year round, but are at their best for pickling about March.

Onions can be eaten raw, cooked or pickled. In many recipes, onions add flavour and texture. They can be used in soups, braises, stews, pizzas, pies, pasta dishes, salads, sandwiches, sauces, chutneys and stir fries.