Been there, survived that. Onions can make a good day worse by leaving you feeling under the weather for the rest of the day. If you want to cut onions without crying ever again in your life, you must first know the science behind how onions make even the strongest of us cry.
The biology of an onion
Onions are made up of a tunic of outer leaves that are brown in colour, scales aka the white juicy edible part and basal plate or the hairy part of the onion. When the root of the onion (basal plate) is cut, it releases an enzyme, which then reacts in the rest of the onion, releasing a gas. When this gas combines with water, it forms an acid. Because your eyes have water, the gas reacts with it and forms acid and triggers the dreadful burning sensation in the eyes causing a flow of tears.
While it may sound tricky to play with these chemical reactions, it is not really that difficult to stop your eyes from watering every time you slice into that delicious beauty.
Use a SHARP knife
If your kitchen gadgetry is full of blunt knives, revive the collection. They may have worked well for you but if you get tears while cutting onion with them, it is time to give them some rest. The enzymes that release when you cut an onion are because the cells are broken or crushed. When you use a sharp knife to slice through an onion, the cells get sliced apart, releasing only a few enzymes.
Chill the onion
Put onions in the freezer for about 10 to 15 minutes before you slice them. Doing so will reduce the amount of gas the enzymes release into the air. No, the onions will not taste different. Remember not to leave the onions in the fridge for too long because they can cause the entire cabinet to stink.
Cut onions under water
This may be difficult to manage because the onion slices can go haywire in the pool, but nothing takes too much after you master it. Remember how the gas from the enzyme reacts with water to form acid? Well, let’s give it what it needs! Cutting onion in water will prevent the gas from spreading and reaching your eyes.
Slice onion near a cloud of steam
Place a jar of hot water very close to where you are cutting the onion. The steam from the water will draw the onion’s vapors and dissipate them.
Stick your tongue out and breathe through your nose
Looking like a cross between a human and a dog may not be that devastating than sitting through 10 minutes of watery eyes and runny nose. This works because the olfactory nerves are located close to the tear duct nerves.
Let us know if you have any more of such effective tear-free ideas.
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