Onions and crying go hand in hand. I don’t know about you, but cutting, slicing, dicing, chopping or sometimes just even looking at onions makes me cry. I don’t understand how some people are not affected by this. I have watched many chefs on TV and they don’t even shed a single tear. Are they immune to it? Do they have an invisible protective shield over their eyes? What is the secret?
For me it doesn’t matter what kind of onion I work with. Yellow, red, spanish, green or even shallots, they all make my eyes fill with tears and mascara flood down my face. It even happens sometimes with garlic, leeks and chives. I decided to research this a little more to truly understand what the problem is and if there is a solution. During my digging into this eye watering phenomenon I found out some very interesting information.
It all starts in the soil. According to HowStuffWorks when vegetables grow they absorb the sulphur from the soil. This creates organic molecules called amino acid sulfoxides, and when you cut into the onions it’s these molecules that cause the tears. I should have just asked my daughter who majored in chemistry. The external irritant triggers the brain to make tears to help wash away the irritation.
Although the sweeter the onion the less the problem, this doesn’t seem to have an effect on me. Vidalia onions are grown in soil that is sulphur deficient so they should be much easier on the eyes when cutting.
There are some tricks you can try to see if it makes things easier for you:
- Chill the onions in the fridge
- Chop them under water
- Use an overhead fan while cutting
- Use a “chopper”… mini food prep
- Make sure your knife is sharp
- Use goggles
- Get someone else to do it (maybe your best option)
According to FOODnavigator.com, tear free onions have been developed. Scientists have been working on this for approximately 20 years. They are currently available in the UK. But do we really want a GMO onion?
But the TRUE answer may be TIME. Just like so many things in life, the more you do it the better you will be. YES they say the more you cut onions, the crying effect will become less over time!! HAPPY CHOPPING!!