Onions are the backbone to many great dishes; countless delicious recipes begin with the simple simmering of oil and onions. But there is just one thorn in the usage of the flavorful root -- it has a tendency to make us cry when we cut into it. And for some of us, this problem is worse in the cooler months since onions harvested in the autumn are more potent and tart. Considering that we are entering the peak of winter, we felt that sharing possible "remedies" for this pesky reaction was well overdue.
Let's start with the simple explanation of why onions irritate our eyes, and then you can decide for yourself as to whether or not these no-cry onion solutions (or myths) do work. The root and shoot of the onion -- known as the basal plate -- contains enzymes that are released when cut into. When these enzymes are mixed with water, they create a sulfuric acid, and it's that acid that irritates our eyes. The best way to avoid these annoying tears when chopping is to stop those acids from reaching our olfactory and tear duct nerves.
Some tips that we have come across are as simple as whistling a tune while you chop (apparently this helps to blow the gases away from your eyes) to the somewhat shady -- in terms of safety -- recommendation of cutting your onion while it is submerged in water. Click through the slideshow below to read about some of our favorite remedies.
Looking for tips on the proper way to chop an onion? Check out the instructional video by The Culinary Institute of America.
What do you do to avoid a tearful onion-cutting session? Let us know by leaving a comment below.