Everyone who steps foot in a kitchen dreads chopping onions. But are the involuntary tears the price the cook must pay to get that lovely flavor? Here is a brief explanation via wikipedia on the science behind the tears and below that are the best ways to avoid the tears altogether:
…Chopping an onion causes damage to cells which allows enzymes called alliinases to break down amino acid sulfoxides and generate sulfenic acids. A specific sulfenic acid, 1-propenesulfenic acid, is rapidly acted on by a second enzyme, the lachrymatory factor synthase (LFS), giving syn-propanethial-S-oxide, a volatile gas known as the onion lachrymatory factor or LF. This gas diffuses through the air and soon reaches the eye, where it activates sensory neurons, creating a stinging sensation. Tear glands produce tears in order to dilute and flush out the irritant.
In this article from LifeHacker, writer Melanie Pinola tests out a handful of the purported solutions to this daily problem and provides verdicts. Of those tested, the most successful options were as follows:
- Cut the onion under a vent or near a window (circulating the air is key).
- Wear goggles. This to seems a little extreme, especially if you’re not experiencing stinging eyes.
- Freeze the onions for 15 minutes before chopping. This seems like the easiest solution to remember.
So wipe those tears from your eyes and get back in the kitchen, provided you have your goggles, a vent and or recently frozen onions.