Sibuyas / Onions

Filipino dishes seem to have onions in just about everything… they are a on1regular component for base flavorings in vegetable sautes, used in soups, on meats, as stuffing, etc. Onions are all members of the Allium family of which there are over 300 varieties around the world. They are believed to have originated in the Middle East and have been consumed by humans for at least 5,000 years. Onions are very easy to cultivate and propagate and they are now grown all over the world and have had a tremendous impact on several cuisines. On a recent foray through Divisoria, the onion selection was superb, with at least four types spotted at one vendor: red shallots, red onions (Bermudas), Spanish onions and the White onions. While the peak of the onion harvest is not for another month or two, I think we are seeing an early bounty aided by favorable weather patterns. Stock up and use generously!

Despite having approximately 1.30% of the world’s population, on2the Philippines only grows about 0.16% of all the onions on the planet. Most onions in the Philippines are grown up North in Nueva Ecija, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Bulacan and Pangasinan. After the rice harvests late in the year (well after the rainy season), farmers like to grow onions in rice fields when there isn’t enough water for another rice crop. Onions typically reach their peak from March to May after which the rains return and rice is again planted in those fields. When onions are harvested, they are plucked out of the soil, dirt brushed off then laid out on the fields for a day or two to get partially dried. Alternatively they are hung in sheds and air dried. They are then bundled and sent off to market or placed in storage. The lack of proper cleaning, drying and storage facilities is the reason for the erratic supply of onions during the year as well as the large fluctuation in prices. In recent years we have relied more heavily on imported onions from China and other countries to augment the locally grown supplies.

In the first photo up top, there is a nice selection of red onions (typically relatively small bulbs, sometimes softer than the Spanish onions and they seem to keep for fewer days/weeks than the the drier Spanish onions), red shallots (also in second photo), Spanish onions and the delicious but ever more difficult to find white onions that are the preferred choice for some Filipino dishes. Onions have a grading system as well, “Extra Large” if they have 35 or less pieces per kilo, Large if there are 36-45 pieces per kilo and Small if there are 75 or more pieces per kilo. You might be interested to know that prices treble from the time they leave the farms to the time you buy them in the market or grocery. Recent retail prices in Divisoria of say P45 a kilo translates into about P13 that went to the guy who actually grew them.

In this third photo, the difference between the standard Spanish or Yellow onion on3and the “Whitish” onion is clearer. The white onion is said to be the preferred choice for Beefsteak Tagalog as it is more opaque, sweet and matches well with the soy and calamansi sauce. It is hard to find the white onions in groceries and I do think that they tend to be softer and more susceptible to spoiling faster. With onion prices at their annual lows, now is the time to make great French onion soups, sofritos for future paellas, onion pizza’s, grilled onions for antipasto plates, etc.

Finally, some onion trivia… the drier the onions, the longer they will last. Onions in developed countries such as the U.S. go through special dryers that extend the life of the produce. If you want to cry less when chopping onions, stick the onions in a refrigerator for an hour before you use them as this seems to reduce the amount of discomfort caused by the sulphur compounds in the onion when they are chopped. Always peel an onion very well and ensure there is no residual dirt on it before you chop it up and throw it into your dish.

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54 Responses

  1. There are dozens of types of onions that are all related. Different types and from different areas of the world result in different characteristics of taste, texture, etc. Shallots and red onions and white onions are quite different from each other… I hope that answers your question katrina.

  2. saan po kaya ako pwede mag storage ng sibuyas? May mga kakilala po kc me na may tanim ng sibuyas at balak ko sanang mamili at ilagay sa storage. pwede po kayang makahingi ng listings ng storage, their address at tel#? thanks and more power!!!

  3. lisa, I have no idea where you can store onions, unfortunately. I think locally grown onions DO NOT LAST very long and are rather perishable because they are not prepared correctly after harvest. In other countries, the onions are harvested, the dried dirt romeved from the onion, they are placed through a dryer type contraption and stored at just the right temperature to prevent rapid spoilage. Here the onions still have so much soil and therefore bacteria on them and they tend to rot faster…

  4. Hello! Just want to ask Ms. Lisa Gamboa’s email address and contact number. We are based here in Nueva Ecija and we’ve been growing red onions for quite some time already. She might be interested since ready to harvest na rin po ang aming mga sibuyas at lahat po ito ay in good condition especially for those who wish to store it and we are really looking for buyers ng wholesale. Plus, we can also advise her on proper procedure sa pagi-storage because ang pinakamagagandang sibuyas ay sa probinsya namin itinatanim. Here’s my contact number just in case (0919-2155248) Mylene Adona. Thnx a lot!

  5. good day im just a student who is interested in starting a bussiness on onions i believe its a good investment. can i have some tips on how to start such bussiness.what month is a good month to buy onions thanx

  6. ano po ba ang scientific name ng native onion,yun pong pula na maliit?
    pls padala na lang po sa email add ko
    thanks po!

  7. Hi, I’m a High School student who is doing a science fair project over onions. My question is: When an onion is grown in different regions does it effect wiether or not they make you cry? My teacher said when he was younger there was an onion that his mother used to always cook with, that did’nt make him cry.I have gotten used to the chemicals released from the onions over time from cooking but it always stung my eyes when i first began cooking. Lachrymatory-factor synthase is released into the air when we cut an onion-as you may know. BUT do all onions have this chemical? I understand if you can’t answer my quesion, but I figured you might know somthing.

  8. meron po ba kayo alam na buyer wholesale para sa sibuyas? By mid march po kase mag-aani na kami. Tnx

  9. gaano po b katagal ang pag harvest nang red onions mula sa pagtanim nito? pwede po b ito itanim khit anong buwan?

  10. I’m willing to supply large quantities of onion at reasonable price, March 30, 2008

  11. greetings!
    interesado po ako magtanim ng onion pwede po b ako maka request ng procedure/ step by step kung paano magtanim ng onion at kung ano brand ang maganda itanim d2 po ang location ko sa laur nueva ecija.tnx
    more power
    God Blesss!

  12. Dear Sir, I’m interested in propagating onions in the Philippines.and actually at this time i know a place in California that I’ll be able to send or supply new variety of onions. please email me.and thank you

  13. hi,
    im interested in growing onions in south cotabato.Please help me with the procedures/techniques of propagatin onions. How many months will it take to grow onions until harvest?what is the most suitable soil type for it? what variety would to recommend?

    thanks a lot

  14. Hello Good Day!

    I’m from the province of Cebu. I want to learn at least some basics in growing onions. Thank you for your help!

  15. hi!!gusto ko lang po na mag tanong kung saan mag storage ng union…kc gusto ko sana na mag stock ako ng union kung sa kali na matuloy ang business namin..tnx.

  16. hi mike! depende sa dami ng nagtanim ang price. pag madami supply mura ang bentahan ng wholesale sa farm pero usually pag maganda ang sibuyas di sya bumababa sa P25/kl direct from farm. Sa isang red bag di sya bumababa ng 25 kilos.

  17. pwede po ba malaman kung pano yung step by step pagtanim ng sibuyas?di kasi ako makabuhay e.baka may kulang sa ginawa ko salamat.

  18. Im interested to buy large quantities of onion direct from farm. I need 5,000 bags or more. If your interested to supply, please contact me at this no. 0905-298-0101 or email me at ysabelco_0319@yahoo.com.

  19. Hello,

    Can you please sned me an information on procedures how to plant onions. Thank you

  20. Hi! I know a family from Nueva Ecija who is farming onions. I want to help them market their onions. You might be interested to buy wholesale, you can reach me thru mzennia_81@yahoo.com.

    I agree with you, Orly. Other businessmen are so mean. Sila ang nakikinabang samantalang ang mga farmers na nga ang nahihirapan, sila pa ang napakaliit ang kita. Wag na man sana ganun. Let’s help instead alleviate our fellow Filipinos lives.

  21. hi ujst asking to where to find some cold storage for our onions and bulk buyers…..more power to you tnx

  22. 16 March 2009

    Hi To all,

    Im planning to enter onion business (both farming and trading)… magre-resign na po ako sa work ko… may i know kung saan po ako pwede magtanong about how to grow onion using new technology and post harvest facility? and also, about the trading of onion (red and white)… maghaharvest po kami this end March 2009. You may contact me at 09188156331

  23. Hi there, I am also planning to enter into trading of onions…could please give me an idea. I am from Cavite and I do not know anybody who is farming onions in the North.

    Thanks and regards

  24. hello there!!! mi alam po ba kau bumibili sibuyas n maganda ganda presyo? maganda po sibuyas namin red pinoy na pede stock ng matagalan.please contact me if u want to buy… 09064590168 thanks!!!

  25. I still have 20Bags of red pinoy onions ready for disposal at 30 to 35pesos/kilo. If you are interested just txt me through 09273193115. I live here in mandaluyong. tnx.

  26. HI GUSTO KO PO MAG ASK KUNG SAAN D2 SA MANILA MAGSTORAGE NG SIBUYAS MY NO. 0921 267 5589

  27. hi gusto ko poh sana mag tnin nang sibuyas, paano poh ba ung mga pamamaraan a pagtanim. at ano un mga factor na e consedered?

    salamat po,, and more power

  28. hi, kami po ay nasa processing ng gulay, naghahanap ako ng mabibilhan ng sibuyas, ung may regular production, 500 kilos a week pataas, heres my number 09216066916.

  29. hello Sir Jumil D. Ricardo,

    Madami kaming sibuyas, pwede kita suplayan ng 500 kilos per week puro local onion nga lang.

  30. Hello all!

    Gapan Ice plant & Cold Storage in Nueva Ecija is open to all from growers to traders, and those who wish to enter into the onion business.
    We support farmers who would like to put their onions in cold storage. We are also frequented by traders to purchase their stocks.

    Onions (Red Pinoy) can be stored for up to 8 months in our facility and still maintain its good quality. For more inquiries please email me at gipacs@yahoo.com

  31. didn’t know onions could also be stored in ice plant i am john ryan abitria from nueva ecija planning to engage in onion business still preparing & gathering info how to do this thanks for the info anyway i might as well visit gapan ice plant one of these days.

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