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What are alliums?

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watch for hidden alliums

Allium is the genus of plants including popular culinary herbs such as onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, and chives. Those with an allium allergy may react to the sulfurous compounds in these plants in addition to the amino acid allicin which is in turn a derivative of the amino acid cysteine. Alliums contain alliin in their raw state, but this is transformed into allicin when the plant is in any way bruised or otherwise damaged to release its oils.

Fortunately for the reactive, allicin will degrade under exposure to high heat. This means those who are merely intolerant may be able to tolerate small amounts of thoroughly cooked garlic or its relatives.

Alliums are not presently considered a major allergen. If it is marked on labels at all, it is voluntary and will generally appear in the form "contains onion".

Read the label for alliums

Alliums can be found in onion (in the form "onion powder", "onion extract", "onion salt", etc), garlic (in the form "garlic powder", "garlic extract", "garlic salt", etc), leeks, shallots, chives, "spices", "natural flavors", vegetables (in the form "dehydrated vegetables," "dehydrated onion", "dried garlic", etc). It also may be hidden in Chinese five-spice powder, curry powder, chili powder, and Worcestershire sauce.

Allium free substitutions

It’s fairly easy to convert any recipe to be allium free. While you can't replace the flavour profiles exactly, other savoury or aromatic spices might work.

If you just need a visual appearance of green in your dish, add some fresh parsley. With the right other herbs to add flavour, the alliums won't even be missed.

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