We have all experienced shedding some tears when chopping onions and in a way that is why many people shy away from one of the most basic activities in the culinary world. However, we cannot deny that onion is one of the most basic, popular and used condiments in kitchens around the world. Avoiding using them is almost impossible, of course the million dollar question for many is What causes us to cry when chopping onion? The reason is completely scientific and simpler than we might think, according to information released by the American Chemical Society: once it is cut or minced, onion produces a chemical irritant called syn-Propanethial-S-oxide. Thiopropanal sulfoxide is a gas that acts as a tear agent and it is striking to say that it is a substance that is released only when onion (Allium cepa) is cut. The release of these chemicals is due to the rupture of the onion cells and the consequent release of enzymes called allinases, such that whenever an onion is cut into slices or cubes, the cells will release these compounds into the air and when this occurs, the “enzyme” works to alter amino acids in tear compounds.
The truth is that many culinary delights would not be the same without the magnificent onions, it is a fact that nobody wants to stop using them. They are considered one of the most powerful natural condiments, they are one of the oldest and certainly medicinal foods on record. Between layers they host exceptional nutritional and therapeutic benefits. They stand out for their content in volatile sulfurous essences that are related to their characteristic spicy flavor and that are also tear compounds. Onions are very low in calories, rich in minerals and trace elements, among which calcium, magnesium, chlorine, cobalt, copper, iron, phosphorus, iodine, nickel, potassium, silicon, zinc, sulfur and bromine stand out. And they contain vitamins with great antioxidant power such as A, B, C and E.
For obvious reasons it is a fact that we do not want to stop enjoying the onion when cooking And in a certain way it is nothing new to say that more and more people are interested in taking measures that may be useful to prevent this reaction. Based on this, we set about compiling the best and most practical tips to reduce the consequences of chopping onion, fortunately if we apply them it will not be necessary to cry a river every time we chop an onion.
Here we present you 5 smart strategies used by the world’s best chefs, to make chopping onion much more bearable. Although it is a fact that sensitivity to the effects of onion usually vary from person to person, when it comes to eliminating tears, these methods are infallible and very useful in our day to day life. Take note and chop onion!
1. Sharpen your knife and use a little vinegar
One of the most famous tips to reduce tears, in addition to being a great tip for better cooking and safety, is to use a sharp knife. In principle, a knife with a good edge will make it easier to cut the onion, but above all is a key step that helps decrease damage to onion cells and thereby the release of the chemical irritant can be reduced. As an additional recommendation: once the knife is sharp soak it in a bowl with white or apple cider vinegarThe essential compounds in vinegar will also help reduce the release of thiopropanal sulfoxide.
2. Ventilate the area, if possible use a fan
According to renowned chefs who have to chop large quantities of onion in their restaurants, a great tip is to place a fan pointing at the table that we will use to chop the onion. It is a practical action that helps push the irritant in the other direction, that is, away from the eyes. In some cases running the exhaust fan can also work, but you should always check your position, as it could be counterproductive and attract the chemical to the face and eyes. For best results, place the fan next to you.
3. Use glasses or googles
We can always put on some goggles and prevent these chemicals released by the onion from ending up in our eyes. In fact, the use of glasses is one of the most recommended tips by professional chefs, as they prevent the onion’s natural tear compounds from coming into contact with the tear ducts. The only recommendation is to adjust the glasses well, they have to be just enough to seal the vapors of the onion. Here a good alternative for only $ 27 on Amazon.
4. Chill or freeze the onions ahead of time.
Although the onion is a vegetable that does not require refrigeration for its correct conservation and freshness, this step can be a great preliminary measure. For those who prefer to avoid wearing glasses, A good tip is to place the onion piece in the refrigerator 30 to 60 minutes before starting to cook and it is necessary to split it. In fact, many people choose to freeze it and then place it in a container with water, to be able to cut it more easily. Basically, the chemical in onion is not released so easily in the cold.
5. Remove the root from the onions
A very interesting and relevant fact: the potency of these chemicals is most concentrated in the onion root. So by removing the root (the end of the onion that is characterized by tiny hair-like strands), you can help limit your exposure to the irritant. All you have to do is cut the root and immediately proceed to chop it, place the final product in a container with a lid and immediately remove the remains of the onion.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.