3 Ways To Chop Onions Without Crying

By Stephen M

Can you cut onions without having teary eyes? It is almost impossible to cut onions without “crying” no matter how long you’ve worked with it. The act seems likes a ritual that accompanies onion cutting and I can bet that even the top chefs do cry sometimes when doing that. However, we have compiled a few ways to help you in your onion-cutting endeavors.

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Why cutting onions burns the eyes

Onion has in stock amino acids and the irritant called syn-Propanethial-S-oxide. The cell walls and release Lachrymatory-factor synthase into the air when you cut them. This enzyme converts the amino acid in the onion into sulfenic, which becomes syn-Propanethial-S-oxide due to its volatility. When released into the atmosphere and meets the eye, it irritates the lachrymal glands to produces tears. Here are three ways to stop the tears when cutting onions.

Use a sharp knife

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The sharp knife is no magic wand that drives away the onion gas that makes you cry. However, it gives you precise and clean cuts through the cell walls without crushing them. Using a blunt knife crushes the cell walls to release more juice that interacts with the surrounding air, and turns into the gas that burns the eyes.

Freeze the onions

Cooling the onion to a certain level somewhat reduces the speed and concentration of the irritant. As the speed reduces, it takes a longer time to reach the eyes and the reduced concentration wouldn’t make it burn. Before chopping your onions, place them at the side of the fridge meant for vegetables for a few minutes to get cold. Alternatively, you can put them in cold water.

Cut the root end last and use fresh onions

The syn-Propanethial-S-oxide content of onion is denser at the rood end of the bulb. This is because it is the defense mechanism of the onion against pests in the soil. It is therefore advisable to cut that side last. In addition, dried or old onions have concentrated irritants than fresh ones. That aside, there are mild and stronger varieties of onions. If you have sensitive eyes, going for the mild variety is ideal.