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How do I tone down the intensity of raw onion?

I like the taste of caramelized onions (I think Ruhlman's book had mentioned it was removing or changing the sulfur), but they are sometimes too soft for salads. What are good ways at lessening the sharp taste of raw onions for salads? I've tried soaking them in water, but it didn't seem to make a large difference -- they were less sharp on the outside, but once you bite into them, they had the same "harsh" taste.

(Also, I've mostly been thinking of red or vidalia onions...)


A nice trick is to soak them in a mixture of balsamic/water/sugar for a few hours. They take on the flavour of the balsamic, the sugar helps to lessen the sour and the water just makes the cost of it all a little less. The onions should remain somewhat crisp but if you leave them in too long then the vinegar will start to do it's job and soften them up. You'll have to find the best time for you.


I love pickled onions in salads. Pickling an onion involves slicing the onion thinly and soaking it in salt and an acid. It takes just 5 to 10 minutes. Balsamic vinegar works great, but you can use different acids depending on what you are using them for. For example, you could use lime juice for mexican meals.

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