The red onion of Tropea: origin and uses of a treasure of Calabria

The red onion from Tropea is cultivated between Nicotera, in the province of Vibo Valentia, and Campora San Giovanni, in the municipality of Amantea, in the province of Cosenza, and along the Tyrrhenian coast. It is mainly produced between Briatico and Capo Vaticano. Also known as the "gold of Calabria", the Tropea onion is an agri-food excellence of our country: it is, in fact, a PGI product known throughout the world for its sweet and pleasant taste easily recognizable by its color that varies between bright red and purple, and ranging from an elongated shape to a ball shape.

History and Origins

Historical and bibliographical sources attribute the introduction of onions in the Mediterranean basin and in particular in Calabria, first to the Phoenicians and then to the Greeks. Very appreciated in the Middle Ages and in the Renaissance, it was a fundamental product for food and for the local economy, sold and exported by sea to Tunisia, Algeria and Greece. Many writings of travelers, who arrived in Calabria between the eighteenth century and the nineteenth century, describe the wonders of the common red onions of Tropea with a sweet and not heavy taste. The red onion of Tropea Calabria IGP will spread, however, with more impulse only later, in the Bourbon period. It boasts the IGP denomination since 2008 and it is a product which is often mentioned when talking about Italian cooking.

Characteristics, properties, benefits and types of tropea onion

The Tropea onion is crispy and bright red in color. It lends itself to a wide range of tasty culinary preparations. Its red color is due to the high content of anthocyanins, polyphenolic-sulfur compounds which belong to the family of flavonoids. Anthocyanins, or anthocyanins, play the role of antioxidants and preserve the degeneration and aging of cells, in particular they are useful to prevent problems in the microcirculation and therefore everything related to the circulation, capillaries and veins. The taste is determined in particular by the consistent presence of sugars among which glucose, fructose, saccharose. It has remarkable nutritive properties and it is also a tonic for veins and arteries and protects them from possible traumas, therefore exerting an antihemorrhagic action and acting positively on hypertension. The content of thiols is important to contrast the accumulation of fat inside blood vessels. It contributes to the diet with about 20 calories per 100 grams of fresh product. This vegetable contains vitamin C, vitamin E, iron, selenium, iodine, zinc and magnesium. The beneficial properties of the bulb are many; one of them is the antisclerotic power which brings benefits to heart and arteries, and prevents the risk of heart attack, very useful to conciliate sleep because of its property of natural sedative. Red onion from Tropea is very used in wintertime as it is also a good natural antibiotic, which makes it precious in case of cold and flu. It is known as a remedy for diseases and traumas of the skin, protects it from the solicitations of the sun (therefore it should be consumed especially in summertime) and gives relief in case of burns. Good diuretic, prevents kidney stones and it is also indicated in case of intestinal infections. If cooked for too long it can lose its properties, therefore it is advisable to lightly fry it, avoiding long cooking. Lastly, red onions from Tropea are also an effective aphrodisiac.

The main types of Tropea onions are three:

  • spinning top, characterized by a particularly sweet taste
  • truncated cone shaped, characterized by a strong sweet and sour taste
  • oval, characterized by a strong and intense taste.

The red onion of Tropea in culinary preparations

Red onions from Tropea can be used to give taste and flavor to many culinary preparations. Among the most renowned recipes we would like to mention the following ones: baked cod with onions, onion ringlets, onions au gratin, onions with beans, pasta with onions, tuna and onions, onion marmalade to be matched with many types of cheese, and many more. Because of its long keeping properties, it can be used all year round if kept in vinegar, in the form of jam, or simply kept in braids and hung up. Caramelized onions are also very appreciated. The red onion from Tropea is not only consumed in Calabria but is also exported and used in Milan, Rome and abroad. On our shop we sell online the Red Onion, Sweet and Sour Tropea Red Onion, Red Onion PGI Pate, Red Onion PGI Jam and other delicacies to taste.

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