Onions are a staple in most recipes. Onions are grown and used around the world, uniting global citizens in the reaction they often cause: tears. This vegetable can be cooked, eaten raw or used to make pickles and chutneys. They are however pungent when chopped and immediately irritate the eyes, causing many to weep. Express.co.uk has compiled a guide to help you chop your next onion with a smile rather than tears.
Onions cause one’s eyes to tear because they release an irritating chemical which impacts your eyes.
This chemical is an enzyme called synthase which when chopped reacts with a sugar compound including sulfur which makes up an onion.
When the synthase reacts with the sulfur a chemical compound called syn-Propanethial S-oxide is created.
This compound is volatile and creates a gas that floats up to your eyes and triggers your lachrymal gland, the gland which produces tears.
How to chop an onion without crying
There are several tricks you can employ to avoid tearing up when you begin dicing an onion.
One way is to refrigerate your onions before use for around 30 minutes in your fridge or 10 to 15 minutes in your freezer
The irritating chemicals which cause your eyes to tear up travel more easily through warm air.
Chilling an onion before you chop it can help to keep these compounds from travelling into your eyes.
Avoid leaving your onions in the fridge all the time as it will lead to them softening and increase the moulding process.
Opening a window near where you are chopping your onion will help to migrate the noxious fumes.
You can also use a fan or an overheat kitchen fan if you have one available.
Be sure to waft the fumes away from your face, rather than towards it.
Using a sharp knife can ensure a smooth chopping experience.
Avoiding crushing helps to prevent less acid from being released.
You should also try to begin by cutting off and throwing away any little bit of root end, which has lots of stringy little roots hanging from it.
This method will allow most of the noxious sulfur compounds, which are found in the root, to escape.
Next, you can remove the pointy tip of the onion, peel its skin and slice it with fewer tears.
Soak in water
You can also avoid crying if you chop off the end of your onion and then place it straight into a bowl of water.
The water will draw out the acid, making it less likely to make you tear up as you chop it.
However, with this method, the onion taste can be made weaker generally.
Some people have naturally more sensitive lachrymal glands than others.
For individuals who are naturally more susceptible to these fumes, these methods may prove ineffective.
If this is the case for you, you can try wearing goggles and therefore prevent the fumes from reaching your eyes.