There is much confusion in relation to onions due to different names being used for the same type of onions in different cultures and states. Onions types can be divided into storage onions and fresh onions. Of the storage onions the most common types are brown, red, white and eschallots. Eschallots are also called shallots in Victoria and some European countries. Brown onions are the most versatile and having the longest storage life. White onions are more pungent than brown onions. Red onions have a milder flavour and can be used raw. Pickling onions are a brown immature onion. Of the fresh onions what are called shallots in NSW are a straight stemmed plant that comes in bunches. They are called Eschallots in Victoria and some European countries. Shallots have a mild flavour and can be used raw or briefly sautéed. The white part has the more oniony flavour but the entire plant can be used. What are called spring onions in Australia are small white bulbs with a green stem. They are known as green onions in the US. They can be used raw or cooked whole or chopped.

Selection and Storage

Choose onions that are dry with no soft spots or markings. Storage onions should be firm all over. Store storage onions loose in a cool dark place. To store other types of onions remove unneeded tops and store wrapped in the crisper section of the refrigerator. Onions are good with potatoes, tomatoes, garlic, wine and roasted meats.


Brown and white onions of different maturities are available all year. Red onions are available most of the year except for summer when they are often imported. Spring onions and shallots are available all year round. Australian Eschallots are available autumn-winter.


For storage onions remove skin and chop or use whole. Onions can cause tears because of the reaction of enzymes to the air as they are sliced or chopped. To reduce tears use a sharp knife, chop near an open window or exhaust or try chilling the onions. Onions are good with tomatoes, meats, fish, garlic, spinach and potatoes.

Nutrition Information

Onions are a source of phytochemicals that may promote healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels. They are also a source of vitamin C, fibre, vitamin B6, folate and manganese.

Types of onions-shallots

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