Ever wondered why every time you need to slice-up even one measly little onion your eyes immediately start to tear-up? My friends, the struggle is real...but that's not to say that there's nothing that can be done about it.
My name is Jeff Potter, and I'm the author of Cooking for Geeks, a book that takes your passion for food and love of science and marries the two, to reveal the hidden secrets behind the foods you love.
Today's installment will help you to understand why you start to cry like a baby every time you need to slice an onion, and I'll offer a few suggestions to help you cope with any future onion tears that may come your way.
Step 1: Understanding Onion Tears
Onions make you tear-up because the moment you cut into them, they release a sulphur-containing gas that is very irritating to your eyes.
So…if irritating gas + eyeballs = crying, the goal then is to remove at least some of the irritating gas out of the equation. Because, science.
There are a few ways you can accomplish this.
Step 2: Use the Sharpest Knife in the Drawer
You don't have to be the sharpest knife in the drawer to use the sharpest knife in the drawer….or...so the saying goes.
A sharper knife makes a cleaner incision, thereby tearing less of the flesh of the onion, and thereby releasing less gas.
Step 3: Keep Cool
The sulphur-containing gas released by the onion is created by an enzyme. At cooler temperatures, rates of reaction slow down, leaving a less than optimal environment for the enzyme to work its magic and release the gas.
Step 4: Air It Out
To keep the gases from reaching your eyes, try using a fan to blow the gas away from you. This is especially helpful if you have a lot of onions to cut.
Step 5: Extreme Countermeasures Are Always an Option
If you've done all of these things and you're still struggling, you can always go the full nerd and wear protective eyewear that seals around the edges. Swim goggles work well, as does a snorkelling mask (snorkel optional).
Step 6: Check Out the Book!
You can find this instructable on page 39 of Cooking for Geeks. For more practical tips and tricks like the one you've just witnessed, check out the rest of the book by reading two chapters for free!
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