Cutting an onion does not have to involve crying.
ONIONS can add depth and sweetness to savoury dishes but the same compounds that make them so flavourful can also bring you to tears, literally.
But onion chopping and eye-watering can be managed with a bit of insight and a few expert tips.
First things first – why do onions make you cry?
There is a bit of science behind it. Long story short, onions release a compound when sliced that gets into the air and can irritate the nerves around the eyes, making you start to tear up.
It is unavoidable to a certain extent – but there are some things you can do to lessen the burn and prevent a total cry-fest.
Here are some of the things you can do to prevent crying while cutting onions:
Wear onion goggles
Onion goggles exist! And for many people, they work quite well. You can find them at speciality cooking shops and home stores.
Keep the exposed cuts away from you
As soon as you cut an onion in half, turn both halves down on your cutting board. Leave the side you are not currently chopping unpeeled.
Once you have finished with one half, move the diced onion into a bowl and set it on the opposite side of the kitchen before proceeding with the rest of the onion.
By using water you diminish the sulfuric acid compounds in the onion itself. To do this, try chilling your onion in a bowl of iced water for a few minutes before cutting.
Some people also prefer to cut their onions while submerged in cold water. But just be aware that they will sizzle wildly in a frying pan if you throw them into oil while wet.
My eyes sometimes get less irritated if I run the onion with water. What I usually do is to cut the onion in half and rinse both parts with water. I then start chopping the onion into the preferred pieces.
Use alternative kitchen tools
If you have the means, you can use speciality gadgets. Buy a good food processor that has an attachment to dice or slice. You reduce the chances of crying because your exposure time is lower and sometimes, the onions are in a closed environment.
Chill your onions before cutting
Onions do not like to be stored in very cold places, but before you cut into one, you may want to consider letting it cool off a bit.
You should sit the onion in a bowl of iced water for 30 to 60 minutes before cutting into it.
You can also try sticking your onions in the freezer for some minutes before you are ready to cut – just don’t forget about them.