A FUNDAMENTAL ingredient for flavour and texture in cooking, but perhaps a vegetable that is rarely shouted about, is the humble bulb onion.

UK-grown onions are pretty much available year-round, so they’re something of a regular on the shelves at the Cultivate stops and a staple in most people’s weekly shops.

According to brittishonions.co.uk (yes, there’s an entire website dedicated to UK-grown onions) there are nine types of onion including supasweet, pickling, white, brown and red varieties. Each has their own distinct characteristics and pungency.

Much in the same way you can rate a chilli’s heat level by using the Scoville scale you can measure an onions pungency on the pyruvate scale.

It's named after pyruvic acid which is the acid created when an onion is cut that makes you cry.

Running from zero to ten, the lower the score the sweeter the onion is considered.

Typically anything rated less than a five falls under the category of sweet onion and your standard brown onion is usually in the range of six to seven out of ten.

Onions with a higher pungency tend to store longer than those with a sweeter taste as the same compounds giving them their flavour also act as preservatives.

Store at room temperature away from light and dry brown, white and red onions can last for months, which is part of the reason we can enjoy them for most of the year.

Some people are brave enough to enjoy onions raw and, although I can be partial to a pickled onion now and then, I much prefer them cooked when their pungency is reduced and their natural sweetness can be enjoyed.

From warming bowls of French onion soup to caramelised onion tarts to whole-baked blooming onions, there are plenty of dishes where this multi-layered veg is the star of the show rather than just a flavour enhancing addition.

So maybe it’s time we did start shouting about onions a little more, although perhaps from a distance as although delicious they are not famed for their breath-freshening abilities.