When you cut into an onion, breaking the cells open, it releases a volatile gas. When this gas hits the tear ducts of your eyes, it causes you to tear up. This is why you can smell a whole onion without crying. Luckily, there are a few ways to cut an onion without crying. If you want to chop onions without any tears, here are a few tips.
Cut Under Stove Exhaust Hood
The exhaust fan on the stove hood pulls the volatile gas up and out of the area quickly, reducing the amount that reaches your tear ducts. Turn the fan on and then place your cutting board on the stove surface. Take the time to make sure the board is balanced so it is not rocking back and forth as you cut. You should be able to cut a few onions with very little irritation. If you notice your eyes are starting to fill with tears, take a step back and give the fan time to pull away the gas. You can then step back to the stove and continue to cut more onions.
Wearing goggles is a great way to keep the gas from getting to your tear ducts. However, you need to be sure that the goggles fit properly or they will not keep the gas from slipping underneath, causing you to cry. Luckily, there are some goggles available that were specifically designed for cutting onions. If you require corrective lenses you can either wear contacts under the goggles, or your eyeglasses over them while chopping.
Freeze the Onion
When you freeze an onion it releases the volatile gases slower, giving you time to cut it without tearing up. Put the onions in the freezer about 15 minutes before you plan on cutting them. You do not want to put them in so they freeze completely or they will be harder to peel, harder to cut, and may change the taste and texture of the foods you use them in.
Soak the Onion
Water can pull some of the gas from an onion. To get the best results, cut both ends off the onion and then put it into a bowl of water for about 15 minutes. You may notice that the onion is more slippery after being in the water, so be careful not to cut yourself. This option is best when you want a milder onion taste in the food.
Cutting onions without tearing up means you can get the task done quicker. It is important to remember that the gas will still be on your hands after cutting so be sure not to wipe your eyes until you have washed them well. To increase the efficacy of the above tips, make sure your knife is sharp so you care cutting the onion and not tearing it.