Chopping Onions With Fewer Tears
Are you one of those cooks who can't chop onions without tears streaming down your face?
In our household I am the designated onion-chopper. Ever since I read somewhere that people with blue eyes are most sensitive to the power of onion juices and those with green eyes are least sensitive, I have been pressed into service whenever an onion must be sliced or diced.
While tears don't run freely when I chop onions, I still do get some.
And I don't like the lingering smell on my hands. The smell often can last for 24 hours even if I wash my hands with perfumed Soft Soap several times.
Yesterday, my Thanksgiving dressing recipe called for a chopped onion. While I was looking forward to the meal we would be enjoying later, I wasn't looking forward to chopping the newly purchased onion or having the unpleasant scent on my hands the rest of the day and into the next morning.
A week or so earlier I watched a short video in the 'Everyday Genius' series of tips sponsored by American Express and with Kari Byron as hostess. In that video the recommended way to prevent teary eyes was to pop the onion in your freezer for 15 to 20 minutes before making a single cut.
I thought I would try it and I have to say it works. I am surprised to find that not only did I not have watery eyes but I also was able to eliminate the strong onion smell after only one or two times of washing my hands.
The reason this works is because the cold temperatures halts the onion from producing the enzyme that makes the acidic gas that releases when you cut into it. The sulfenic gas combines with the natural moisture covering the surface of the eye and stimulates the tear ducts into producing tears to wash away the acidic invader. Just an additional note: if you start your cutting at the top of the onion instead of the root end, you are less likely to tear up. More sufuric compounds are found in the base than throughout the rest of the onion.
Try your freezer first the next time you chop an onion and see if it works for you. As for me, this will be my method from now on.
Photo by Dezidor via Wikimedia Commons
Image Credit » Sandra L. Petersen