A favorite of locals and visitors alike, Maui onions are famous for being one of the sweetest onions in the world. Succulent, sweet, crisp, juicy, and mild with a delightful, unmistakable flavor, the onions are delicious baked, broiled, stuffed, grilled -- and even raw!
While other regions have attempted to replicate the Maui Onion, Maui farmers feel strongly that this popular vegetable can only be grown on Maui. Their reason? No other place in the world has the benefit of the rich, red volcanic soil of Maui’s majestic Haleakala -- a secret ingredient that farmer’s say is key to the onion’s sweet flavor. Add to that Maui’s ideal climate, and you have special conditions that aren’t easy to duplicate.
The Maui onion has many layers indeed so here’s more about this local “sweetie.”
What’s the Secret? Maui onions lack the sulfur that gives most onions their “sharp” taste and “hot” bite. They are also higher in sugar than other onions and have a high water content that contributes to their juiciness.
No Need to Cry! You’ll likely find that you cry less when cutting sweet Maui onions. That’s because they are low in the sulfur that reacts with the natural moisture in our eyes to produce the stinging sulfuric acid gas that makes us cry. To reduce tears even further, chill onions before chopping and cut the root end last as it has the most sulfuric compounds.
Breathe Freely! If you’re worried about onion breath, simply chew a citrus peel, eat a bit of parsley, or rinse your mouth with equal parts lemon juice and water. Otherwise, simply let the flavor of the sweet onions linger in your mouth!
An Onion a Day… Onions are the third most consumed vegetable in the U.S. and in fact, the average American eats 20 pounds of onions in a year. The good news is that they are good for us as they are rich in beneficial anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. And when they’re sweet like Maui onions, they’re even easier to eat!
Keep Them Cool: Store Maui Onions in a cool, dry place and they will keep for two months. Keep them alone if possible as they will draw moisture from other vegetables stored close by. Wrap cut pieces and store them in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Did You Know?
Maui Onions were a favorite of “Ol’ Blue Eyes,” Frank Sinatra. The entertainer discovered the onions while working on a film in Hawaii and raved about them to everyone. He even suggested that you had to have a Maui Onion if you were going to eat a hamburger!
This classic, flavorful soup is wonderfully suited for Maui Onions—the slow caramelization and long simmering time really enhance the natural sweetness of our local onions.
2 1/2 pounds Maui or Ewa sweet onions
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
8 cups beef broth
2 teaspoons good quality sherry
6 to 8 baguette slices, toasted
8 slices Gruyere or Swiss cheese
6 tablespoons grated Parmesan
Melt the butter in a heavy-gauge pan set over medium-low heat. After the butter foams up and then settles down, add the onions and stir to coat with butter. Cook for 15 minutes on medium to low heat, stirring occasionally.
Stir in salt, pepper and sugar, and continue to cook the onions for 40 minutes to 1 hour, stirring every few minutes, until the onions are deeply browned.
Add the flour to the caramelized onions; cook and stir for about 1 minute. Add in the wine and let reduce by half. Add beef broth and bring to a boil, then simmer for at least 1 hour. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and add in the sherry. Keep hot.
Heat the oven on the broiler setting. Divide the hot soup between deep oven-safe bowls. Place the bowls on a baking sheet or in a casserole dish.
Top each serving with 1 to 2 slices of toasted baguette and lay two slices of cheese over the baguette. Sprinkle Parmesan over the slices of cheese. Broil the soup for 1 to 3 minutes, or until the cheese is browned and bubbling. Remove carefully from the oven and let cool for a few minutes before serving.
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