Onions are essential in countless recipes, adding flavor and depth to dishes from all corners of the culinary world. However, for many home cooks and professional chefs alike, the mere thought of cutting onions can bring tears to their eyes. The culprit behind this emotional reaction is a volatile compound released by onions when their cells are damaged, which then reacts with the moisture in our eyes, causing irritation and tears.
But fear not! There are several tried-and-tested methods to minimize or even eliminate the tears that accompany onion cutting. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore various techniques and tips to help you know how to cut onions without crying.
Why Do Onions Make You Cry?
Onions make you cry due to a chemical reaction when you cut into them. Onions contain sulfur compounds, released when the onion cells are damaged. When these sulfur compounds come into contact with the air, they form a volatile gas called syn-propanethial-S-oxide (also known as onion lachrymatory factor). This gas then reacts with the moisture in your eyes, forming sulfuric acid. The sulfuric acid irritates the nerve endings in your eyes, leading to tears as a protective mechanism. Additionally, onions release enzymes called aliases when cut, which further contribute to the production of the tear-inducing gas.
Which Onions Make You Cry The Most?
The answer to which onions make you cry the most is the yellow onion. When you cut into a yellow onion, it releases a gas called syn-propanethial-S-oxide, which irritates the eyes and causes them to tear up. This gas is produced when the onion’s cells are damaged, and it reacts with the moisture in your eyes to form a mild sulfuric acid. The higher sulfur content in yellow onions than other varieties contributes to their stronger tear-inducing effect. Red and white onions also contain this gas in lower quantities, making them less likely to cause as much tearing. However, individual sensitivity to onions can vary, so some may find that other varieties make them cry more.
10 Tips & Tricks To Cutting Onions Without Crying
Cutting onions can be a tearful experience for many people, as the onion releases a gas that irritates the eyes and causes tears to flow. However, several tips and tricks can help minimize or eliminate the crying sensation while cutting onions.
Here are 10 tips for cutting onions without crying:
Chill the onion:
Before cutting the onion, place it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes or in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. The cold temperature helps slow the release of the irritating gas, reducing the chances of tears.
Use a sharp knife:
A sharp knife creates cleaner cuts and minimizes damage to the onion cells, reducing the gas released. This can help decrease eye irritation and crying.
Cut near running water:
Position your cutting board near a running faucet or under a steady stream of water. The water helps to wash away the gas released by the onion, preventing it from reaching your eyes.
Light a candle:
Light a candle near your cutting area. The flame attracts and burns some of the gasses released by the onion, reducing their concentration in the air and minimizing eye irritation.
Wear goggles or glasses:
Wearing protective eyewear, such as goggles or glasses, creates a barrier between your eyes and the onion’s gas. This prevents the gas from reaching your eyes and causing tears.
Cut under an exhaust fan:
If you have an exhaust fan in your kitchen, position yourself and the cutting board underneath it. The fan will help draw away the gas released by the onion, reducing eye irritation.
Slice off the root end last:
The root end of an onion contains a higher concentration of enzymes that produce tear-inducing gas. By leaving it intact until last, you minimize exposure to these enzymes during cutting.
Soak onions in water:
Before cutting the onion, soak it in cold water for a few minutes. This can help reduce the gas released when you cut into it, minimizing eye irritation.
Cut onions under a vent or near an open window:
Position your cutting area near a vent or open window to improve air circulation. This helps disperse the gas released by the onion, reducing eye irritation.
Use a food processor or onion chopper:
If cutting onions by hand consistently leads to tears, consider using a food processor or an onion chopper. These tools can chop onions quickly and efficiently while minimizing exposure to the gas.
To cut onions without crying, chill or freeze the onion, use a sharp knife, wear goggles, light candles, or use a fan. Practice proper breathing techniques and good kitchen ventilation to reduce the release of irritants and discomfort caused by onion-induced tears.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do Chefs Chop Onions Without Crying?
Chefs can chop onions without crying by using various techniques such as chilling the onion, cutting near a flame, or wearing goggles to prevent the release of irritants.
How Do You Stop Your Eyes From Watering When Cutting Onions?
To stop your eyes from watering when cutting onions, you can try chilling the onion in the refrigerator before cutting, using a sharp knife to minimize damage to the onion cells, or wearing goggles to protect your eyes.
What Part Are You Not Supposed To Cut On Onion To Not Cry?
The part of the onion you are not supposed to cut to avoid crying is the root end. Cutting the root end releases a gas that irritates the eyes and causes tears.