From topping a juicy burger to pairing fried rings with one, onions can bring you to tears. Literally. But do not cry over spilled milk chopped onions, as the internet bursts with numerous “how to slice an onion without crying” tips, including these 10 that might be the weirdest!
Why Do Onions Make Us Cry?
Whether a critically-acclaimed chef or culinary experimenter, you may have learned onions can bring a tear or a few to the eyes. But why exactly does this happen? The Science Daily explains the phenomena starts underground when “sulfur in the dirt mixes with the growing onion and creates amino acid sulfoxides, which are sulfur compounds that readily turn into a gas. When an onion breaks apart, the sulfoxides and onion enzymes are released, and this creates sulfenic acid. The sulfenic acid and onion enzymes react and create syn-propanethial-S-oxide.” But despite the complexity of the process, the created gas shields the onion against harmful critters in nature and eventually, sting the eyes when chopped in the kitchen.
Eyes contain a set of nerves to detect harmful substances and protect themselves by flushing out the onion compounds via tears. So considering the eyes allow us to see, it is actually a good thing they respond to the fumes! Though there really are no additional consequences beyond tears and irritation, there are methods to reduce such a pesky annoyance, including the weirdest hacks detailed below!
The 10 Weirdest Onion Hacks
1. Onion Goggles
Yep, there are goggles dedicated to the practice of onion cutting… The RSVP Tearless Kitchen Onion Goggles are advertised for “tearless chopping, mincing, dicing, and slicing” thanks to its comfortable seal that protects eyes from irritating onion vapors. Oh and not to mention, they come in a variety of colors, including black, pink, red, tortoise shell, and white!
2. Swimming Goggles
Don’t have Onion Googles? A pair of swimming goggles will do, too! (No swimming pool required.)
3. Wear Shades
Whereas the kitchen is an unlikely place to whip out the shades, they are touted to work similarly to goggles. And if you are to cry, no one will see behind the shades! (Just make sure you can see the onion while chopping!)
4. Chop Under a Vent
This is somewhat self-explanatory: Chopping under ventilation essentially redirects the onion compounds away from the eyes. Simply place the cutting board underneath your stove’s overhead vent and chop away.
5. Pop in the Microwave
The no-cry onion microwave trick is claimed to work by denaturing (or breaking down) the chemicals that form those notorious tears. Start by washing the onion, placing it in a microwave-safe dish, then piercing the onion’s entire surface with a fork. Microwave for approximately 30 seconds, or until the internal temp of the onion reaches 160°F. Allow onion to cool to room temp then chop away!
6. Light A Candle
Set the mood and dry the eyes by lighting a candle! Doing so is hyped to burn away the tear-jerking onion juices. But if tears do end up rolling from the eyes, at least the nose will be smelling a well-scented candle!
7. Freeze the Onion
Freezing onions before chopping is touted to inhibit the onion’s ability to release its eye-irritating chemicals, thus restricting them away any tears. And the hack is simple: Freeze the onion for about 15 minutes before cutting it.
8. Soak in Water
Chop off the ends of the onion, peel, and soak for approximately 20 minutes to release the sulfuric compounds. Dry it off then proceed with tear-free use.
9. Cut Under Running Water
But rather than waiting for the onion to soak, cut it under water to direct the compounds straight down the drain!
10. Stick Bread in Mouth
Before layering up that sandwich, stick a slice of bread in your mouth. While it may seem weird, the bread is placed in hopes to catch the fumes before they reach the eyes.
Chopping Up Extra Onion Hacks
Use A Sharp Knife
Make sure your knife is sharp, as cutting the onion will be more efficient and lessen exposure time to the eye-watering fumes.
Avoid Rubbing Your Eyes
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it is instinctual to rub your eyes if they do start to water. But avoid doing so! The onion juices on your fingers might start a crying fest…
Save the Onion for Last
Rather than exposing the room with onion right from the start, save the onion for last (or as close to last as possible) to lower the risk of onion exposure over a prolonged period of time.
Pass the Buck
But if you still find yourself crying, purchase already chopped onions from the freezer section or pass the buck onion for someone else to tackle!