Can you eat onion skin?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question “Can you eat onion skin?”. We will also elaborate on the possible ways of using onion skin to get the most of its benefits.

Can you eat onion skin?  

No, you cannot eat the onion skin directly but you can use it for various purposes that may be related to food, sleep inducers, or any other.

Why should we save the onion skin?

Onions are the most popular vegetables all over the world. But the majority of the population discard their peels and outer skin because it seems like packaging or a wrapping cover only but research has found out that these peels or outer coverings of onions are full of nutritional content and can also be used in various household chores.

Due to the increasing consumption of onions, a large amount of onion skins are generated as a byproduct. More than 500,000 tons of onion skin waste are discarded every year within the European Union (1)

Plants are non-motile, they remain stationed at their growth places where they produce different parts of their fruits, one of them being their outer covering. These outer coverings are synthesized by the onion plant as a defensive component against environmental attacks or rain, storms, etc. 

Plants invest some of their energy and nutrients to the skin to heal and protect their internal body. 

The outer covering of onion is enriched with a heavy source of vitamins such as A, C, and E along with many antioxidant compounds. The onion skin is also enriched with flavonoids, especially quercetin, and also with anti-inflammatory agents (1).

However, onion skins are mainly composed of fibers, especially from cellulose and uronic acids (1). Although a variety of health benefits have been attributed to dietary fiber consumption including improvements in glucose control, serum lipid profiles, and bowel function, their excessive ingestion can lead to uncomfortable symptoms, such as flatus and abdominal pain and malabsorption of vitamins, especially in elderly and sensitive people (2).

How can we use the onion skin in our routine recipes?

Provides additional nutritional content to some recipes

Peels of onion add extra flavor and nutritional content to some of the recipes like stews, soups, and also in preparation of bone stock or broth. After preparing the recipes this papery skin of onion could be removed through straining.

Better for roasting

While roasting the onion or garlic, keep them covered with their outer skin that will keep softening the onion internally along with the addition of nutritional content from the peel to the onion body. These nutritional content will be of different types such as antioxidants, and vitamins like A, C, and E.

Enriched rice

It is also recommended to add the onion skin or cover while cooking the rice. It adds extra vitamins to the recipes. But you must ensure that this onion peel remains steep as long as the rice takes time to cook, then simply remove these outer coverings of onion after cooking.

Besides, studies demonstrated that extracts from onion skin have cholesterol lowering effects, due to its high amounts of quercetin. It also helps to improve lipid profile and lower triglycerides of blood (5). 

Can be mixed into bread

Onion outer covering could be grounded in a mortar or pestle that works well for grinding. This powdered form of onion peel can then be added into bread dough which is prepared at home, this well-grounded powder will add nutrients into the bread also with a mild flavor of onion which will give a pleasant touch to taste while eating. Studies have shown that dry onion may be added to bakery products (rolls, breads), and also into the pasta, causing significant improvement of antioxidants abilities without the loss of its sensory properties (3).

Reduces the muscles cramp

Onions outer covering are also helpful in relieving muscle cramps, as used in traditional medicine (5). Preparing a mixture that should work for the muscle cramp is very easy to prepare. Just boil the onion peel for 10 to 20 minutes to make an infusion. Strains the water and removes the skin of an onion. 

It is suggested to drink as it is or it can be consumed in the form of tea just before going to bed for sleep, this will aid to get rid of these muscle cramps.

Aids in improving the sleep cycle

Onion outer skin is also recommended as a natural existing inducer of sleep. In this natural treatment, prepare a cup of tea made with an outer covering of onion. Simply boil the water along with a large onion skin then cover the pot and leave the peel soaked in water for some time. Strain the liquid, take it as a tea and enjoy a good sleep. The organosulfur cysteine sulfoxide is believed to have such property (4).

Onion skin adds nutrients to the compost

Onion skin is also a great source of nutrients that can be added to your compost pile. Compost pile represents organic matter which can be added to the soil to enhance the fertility of the land that will help the plant to grow better. However, studies showed that, when produced in large amounts, are not useful for an organic fertilizer because of the rapid development of phytopathogenic agents (3).

Easter egg or Fabric and Wool dye

The skin of onion may be red, or brown which can be used to dye the thread, wool, or fabric. The production of natural food colorants to be used in snacks is also possible (3).

Hair Dye

Onion skin is also a good source for dying hair. These outer covers dye the hair in a natural golden brown shade. To prepare dye from onion skin, just boil the onion peel for almost 30 minutes in water and then let it cool and leave overnight, on the next day apply it on hair for 30 minutes and then rinse them (6).

Other FAQs about Onions that you may be interested in.

Does Onion Powder Go Bad

How to preserve onions

How many red onions are there in a pound?

Can you eat raw onions?

Conclusion 

In this brief guide, we have answered the question “Can you eat onion skin?”. We have also elaborated on the possible ways of using onion skin to get the most of its benefits.

References

  1. Choi, In Seong, et al. Onion skin waste as a valorization resource for the by-products quercetin and biosugar. Food chem, 2015, 188, 537-542. 
  2. Bliss, Donna Z., et al. In vitro degradation and fermentation of three dietary fiber sources by human colonic bacteria. J agri food chem, 2013, 61, 4614-4621.
  3. Michalak-Majewska, Monika, et al. Influence of onion skin powder on nutritional and quality attributes of wheat pasta. PLoS One, 2020, 15, e0227942.
  4. Memariani, Zahra, et al. Traditional uses. Phytonutrients in Food. Woodhead Publishing, 2020. 23-66.
  5. Galavi, Amin, Hossein Hosseinzadeh, and Bibi Marjan Razavi. The effects of Allium cepa L.(onion) and its active constituents on metabolic syndrome: A review. Iran J Basic Med Sci, 2021, 24.
  6. Itodo, Sunday Ewaoche, et al. Phytochemical properties and staining ability of red onion (Allium cepa) extract on histological sections. J Cytol Histol, 2014, 5, 1.

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.