So you’re preparing dinner all by yourself when a family member walks in, takes a look at you, and turns white. “Is everything OK?!” they’ll ask. “Did somebody die?!” You laugh through the tears and say, “Oh no, I just cut an onion!”
Has that happened to you before? It has certainly happened to me. Those pesky, stinging tears that go along with chopping up an onion are such a pain! Luckily, though, these tears can be easily avoided if you know what you’re doing and you have the proper equipment. Read on for the proper way to cut an onion. As an added bonus, discover the best techniques for caring for “onion eyes” on the following page.
So why do onions make you cry in the first place? Well, it’s all about the enzymes. Cutting into an onion breaks cells, and causes different enzymes to interact with each other to produce a whole new enzyme. This enzyme irritates your eyes, which creates tears.
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How to Cut An Onion
1. Cut a small portion off the top of the onion.
2. From the root down, cut the onion in half.
3. Peel & discard skin.
4. With the flat side down, cut parallel, evenly spaced slices into the onion. Don’t cut all the way to the root.
5. With your knife parallel to your cutting board, cut slices that stop before the root end.
6. Cut through your first round of slices.
- Make sure that your knife is as sharp as possible. A chef’s knife is ideal here.
- You can freeze onions or let them sit in cool water for 15-20 minutes before chopping to reduce tears.
- Having the hood vent on can reduce irritation.
- Dicing with a piece of bread in your mouth has been known to alleviate symptoms.
- You can even use goggles to stop the sting.
How to Treat the Tears: The best thing to do is wash your hands with soap and water. Splashing cool water in your face, or placing a damp towel over your eyes, can also help.