Cry Me A River: The Onion

Real Estate Agent with Coldwell Banker Traditions

Cry Me A River: The Onion 


I had went to see my grandchildren in Georgia.  We went out one day to Athens Georgia to go into Thrift/Antique Stores, which is a family pastime.  Low and behold the lady at the counter in one of them was eating her lunch.  It smelled delicious and looked so tasty.  So I asked her what she was having. She said Onion Pie.  I said I had never heard of it.  So she gave me a taste.  I was suddenly in love!  I asked her for the receipt which gave me.  I have been making this wonderful Pie ever since.  You can make it year round.  


So I said to myself let’s do a blog on onions.  So here you are.  


Onion History

Onion is thought to have originated more than 5000 years ago in Central Asia and is one of the most ancient of food sources. Its consumption by humans can be traced back to the Bronze Age. A staple in the diet of many early civilizations, it was especially important in ancient Egypt

Many archaeologists, botanists, and food historians believe onions originated in central Asia. Other research suggests onions were first grown in Iran and West Pakistan. 

It is presumed our predecessors discovered and started eating wild onions very early – long before farming or even writing was invented. Very likely, this humble vegetable was a staple in the prehistoric diet.

Most researchers agree the onion has been cultivated for 5000 years or more. Since onions grew wild in various regions, they were probably consumed for thousands of years and domesticated simultaneously all over the world. Onions may be one of the earliest cultivated crops because they were less perishable than other foods of the time, were transportable, were easy to grow, and could be grown in a variety of soils and climates. In addition, the onion was useful for sustaining human life. Onions prevented thirst and could be dried and preserved for later consumption when food might be scarce. While the place and time of the onion’s origin is still a mystery, many documents from very early times describe its importance as a food and its use in art, medicine, and mummification.


Am I a Fruit or Vegatable?

An onion (Allium cepa L., from Latin cepa meaning "onion"), also known as the bulb onion or common onion, is a vegetable that is the most widely cultivated species of the genus Allium. The shallot is a botanical variety of the onion which was classified as a separate species until 2011.


Fun Facts

Our word “onion” comes from the Latin “unio” meaning one or unity, because an onion grows as a single bulb.

In ancient Egypt, the onion was a symbol of eternity because it is a circle‐within‐a‐circle. The Pharaoh Cheops paid workers who built the Great Pyramid in onions, garlic, and parsley and onions were painted on the walls of the pyramids. Mummies were even buried with onions.

According to an old English Rhyme, the thickness of an onion skin can help predict the severity of the winter. Thin skins mean a mild winter is coming while thick skins indicate a rough winter ahead.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest onion ever grown, weighed 10 pounds 14 ounces. It was grown by V. Throup of Silsden, England.

Onions are a popular vegetable. Worldwide we grow about 50 million tons of onions a year! The average person eats about 13.7 pounds of onions a year. This really varies, for example in North America we eat about 18.6 pounds each per year, while in Libya, the average person eats 66.8 pounds of onions in a year!


Onion tips

After slicing onions, wash your hands in cold water, then rub them with salt or vinegar. The salt or vinegar will remove onion smells from your hands.

If you eat onions you can get rid of onion breath by eating parsley.

If you need only half of an onion, use the top half. The root will stay fresh longer in the refrigerator.

When buying onions, go for ones that feel heavy in your hand and firm.


Onions – why the tears?

It’s all about chemistry!

Onions absorb sulfur from the soil, which helps form a class of volatile organic molecules called amino acid sulfoxides; they form sulfenic acids. When you cut an onion, you break cells, releasing their contents. Enzymes that were kept separate now are free to mix with the sulfenic acids to produce propanethiol S-oxide, a volatile sulfur compound that wafts upward toward your eyes. This gas reacts with the water in your tears to form sulfuric acid. The sulfuric acid burns, stimulating your eyes to release more tears to wash the irritant away.

Cooking the onion inactivates the enzyme, so while the smell of cooked onions may be strong, it doesn’t burn your eyes. Aside from wearing safety goggles, a snorkel mask or running a fan, you can keep from crying by refrigerating your onion before cutting it (slows reactions and changes the chemistry inside the onion) or by cutting the onion under water. This can be very tricky and may lead to knife mishaps. Instead, use a sharp knife which reduces the crushing effect of slicing onions.


What is the folklore about onions?

People hung strands of onions and garlic from their doorways, their windows, and even around their necks to keep the vampires away. Some cultures thought of the onion family as having sexual powers.


What countries do not eat onions?

The Buddhist "pure vegan" diet is also practiced by Mahayana Buddhist monastics in Korea, Vietnam, and Japan. In India, practitioners of Jainism and Hinduism may also abstain from garlic and onions, as well as other plants which are associated with impurity.


What nationality eats the most onions?

World onion production is estimated at approximately 105 billion pounds each year. The average annual onion consumption calculates to approximately 13.67 pounds of onions per person across the world. Libya has the highest consumption of onions with an astounding average per capita consumption of 66.8 pounds.


What does the onion symbolize?

They've been woven into the fabric of traditions, often symbolizing prosperity and protection. In various cultures, onions were thought to ward off evil spirits, and they played a role in rituals, from weddings to funerals, signifying eternity due to their concentric layers


Can dogs eat onions?

No, dogs shouldn't eat onions. These vegetables contain a compound called N-propyl disulphide which is highly toxic for dogs. This compound can cause the breakdown and eventual destruction of red blood cells and lead to anaemia. In extreme cases, onion poisoning can be fatal for dogs.


What is the deeper meaning of onion?

The metaphor of a peeling onion is often used to describe the layers of hurt we experience in our lives. Just as an onion has multiple layers that must be peeled away to reach its core, our emotional pain can also be multi-layered and complex. Here's a comparison of the layers of hurt to a peeling onion: Outer Layers.


Southern Onion Pie Recipe 

I've taken all of the important and the subtle nuances of onions and layered them into this savory pie. It's a cross between a classic southern tomato pie, a buttermilk pie and an onion tart. The caramelized onions start in a slow cooker with sherry and thyme (if you feel fancy). Overnight, the translucent petals of white, yellow, red and sweet onions melt, become bronzed and bathe in their own juices to produce a cohesive tangle of skins that are baked under a mayonnaise and Parmesan crust inside of a buttery pie shell and garnished with a little bit of fresh chopped chives. It's super fantastic.


Southern Savory Onion Pie

Yield: 2 Pies; 6-8 Slices Per Pie

All of the important and the subtle nuances of onions and layered them into this savory pie. It's a cross between a classic southern tomato pie, a buttermilk pie and an onion tart. The caramelized onions start in a slow cooker with sherry and thyme (if you feel fancy). Overnight, the translucent petals of white, yellow, red and sweet onions melt, become bronzed and bathe in their own juices to produce a cohesive tangle of skins that are baked under a mayonnaise and Parmesan crust inside of a buttery pie shell and garnished with a little bit of fresh chopped chives. It's super fantastic.



2 to 4 pounds white, yellow, red, and sweet onions, thinly sliced

3 Tablespoons cooking sherry

3/4 cup Greek yogurt

4 dashes hot pepper sauce (such as Cholula or Texas Pete)

2 eggs

salt and pepper, to taste

3 cups caramelized onions

1 pie shell

1 1/4 cups grated Parmesan or Gruyere cheese

3/4 cup mayonnaise

salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 Tablespoons fresh chives, chopped



Transfer all of the thinly sliced onions to the slow cooker — the slow cooker should be half to three-quarters full.

Cook for 5 hours on HIGH or 10 hours on LOW.

Stir occasionally, if possible — this will help them cook more evenly, but is not necessary.

After 5-10 hours, the onions will be golden-brown and soft, and they will have released a lot of liquid. Remove onions to a large bowl and let cool.

If you like onions with a deeper color, continue cooking for another 3 to 5 hours on LOW. Leave the lid ajar so the liquid can evaporate. Check every hour and stop cooking whenever the onions look and taste good.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large bowl, mix 3 cups of the cooled onions with yogurt, hot sauce, eggs and salt and pepper. Make sure all ingredients are well blended and then pour into 1 pie shell.

In a small bowl, mix grated cheese, mayonnaise, salt and pepper until well-blended. Spoon mixture on top of the onion mixture in the pie shell.

To prevent burning or over-browning the pie crust, cover the crust with aluminum foil. Bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes.

Remove foil from the pie crust and bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Garnish with chives, if using. Let cool for a few minutes to settle before slicing.

Pie can be served hot, warm, or at room temperature.


This is delicious and you will fall in love with it!  I know I did.  

Bob "RealMan" Timm
Ward County Notary Services - Minot, ND
Owner of Ward Co Notary Services retired RE Broker

Elaine VonCannon you need to add this to this month's Active Rain challenge. You will get 1,000 bonus points for it. Just add it to the contest group.

Jun 14, 2024 12:05 PM
Nick Vandekar, 610-203-4543
Realty ONE Group Advocates 484-237-2055 - Downingtown, PA
Selling the Main Line & Chester County

This sounds delicious, maybe you should enter it for this months challenge.

Jun 14, 2024 12:09 PM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Pasadena And Southern California 818.516.4393

Hello Elaine - I agree with Nick Vandekar, 610-203-4543, this unique recipe and taste sensation is an ideal entry for this month's ActiveRain Challenge co-hosted by Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can! and Kathy Streib.  No tears.  No fear.  Just good eating.  

Jun 14, 2024 12:20 PM
Ed Silva, 203-206-0754
Mapleridge Realty, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can!  I am not a big fan of the onion so this is more than I need to know. I was looking for the photo of the onion pie thinking it ws going to be art of the cookbook

Jun 14, 2024 01:08 PM
Doug Dawes
Keller Williams Evolution - 447 Boston Street, Suite #5, Topsfield, MA - Topsfield, MA
Your Personal Realtor®

Good Afternoon Elaine VonCannon 

I love onions. I've never seen so much information on the onion as you have provided. Now that the weather has turned in my area I am planting my onion

Jun 14, 2024 02:03 PM
John Pusa
Glendale, CA

Hello Elaine VonCannon thank you for sharing excellent post for onion recipe.

Jun 14, 2024 02:29 PM
Monica Brisson
LPT Realty - Delray Beach, FL
Making Your Dreams Come True!

Thanks Elaine for the post! My sister in law makes an onion pie every holiday and boy is it delicious! Now I can make it with your recipe!

Jun 20, 2024 06:46 AM