Instructables

Less Grumpy Kitchen - No More Tears Onion Peeling

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Picture of Less Grumpy Kitchen - No More Tears Onion Peeling
We've all been there - you have peeled your onion and start to cut it up only to burst out crying. The sadness of the senseless violence against this poor little vegetable.

Well, not really. The tears are because of the vapours released by the onion during the process of cutting it. In this little Instructable I'll show you how I cut my onions with no tears. I promise, there will be no water or fridges involved.
 
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Step 1: The Obligatory "What You Need" List.

Picture of The Obligatory
This one is a pretty short list.

You will need:

* 1 or more onions.

* A cutting board.

* A sharp paring knife.

* A special note on knives *
Make sure you keep your kitchen knives sharp at all times. No knife in the kitchen is more dangerous than a blunt/dull knife. A sharp knife will ensure a true cut and will not slip or slide. A blunt knife however may easily slip from where you are cutting and cause you an injury.

Step 2: Vegetable Strip Tease.

Picture of Vegetable Strip Tease.
Pretty standard step here - remove the outer dried layers of the onion by peeling them from the top of the onion to the base. Do not chop either end of the onion off at this stage. Also, if you have the roots sprouting out of the bottom of the onion don't chop them off right now... Wait for the Bonus Round at the end of this Instructable.
holly-g8 months ago
Funny one- this works just like all the other "tried and true" tips for no tears- not at all.
benross1 year ago
I wear contact lenses and never have a problem with onions!
grumpydad (author)  benross1 year ago
Contact lenses clearly have more benefits than just eyesight :)

That said, I'll admire your ability to put lenses into you eyes and remain cowardly, with my glasses. I just can't do contacts, I'd end up poking my eye out with my own finger! My wife would testify to how clumsy I am when my hands get close to eyes :)
jttereve1 year ago
Try breathing through your mouth. Receptors in your nasal cavity will produce tears when you breathe in aroma from raw onions.
grumpydad (author)  jttereve1 year ago
I'm afraid you are mistaken, tears whilst cutting onions is nothing to do with the "aroma" of raw onions. The action of cutting the central root of the onion releases a number of enzymes. The result of the chemical reactions that occur is the presence of a number of sulphurous compounds. This is the principal reason why the method in this I'ble works; those compounds are never created as you do not breach the central root.

The idea of breathing through your mouth is a method that has been touted for many years. However, you do not need to breath through your nose for your body to react to the compounds released, though it certainly improves the situation by not doing so. This is why things like putting something with a strong smell under your nose and holding your breath help in the same way as breathing through your mouth.
mikaleda1 year ago
Some good tips in here, but I've never seen an onion cut quite like that, I usually cut the ends of than put a slice down the side to peel of the dead layers of skin off.
grumpydad (author)  mikaleda1 year ago
There's so many ways to cut fruit and veg, you could spend decades trying them all out :)
Lol, very true.
Bitter731 year ago
How much of the "root" or "core" needs to be preserved to ensure regrowing? And I like your method but I was wondering if you could use an apple corer?
grumpydad (author)  Bitter731 year ago
The regrowing is more to do with the little white wispy roots that grow out of the base of the onion. I could really give you a definite on how much needs to be preserved. You can grow an onion from just the wispy roots that grow out of it without needing the rest of the core. So, going out on a limb, I'd say as long you have that tough bit at the end, it will have a fair chance. The main reason I replant the whole thing is simply that it avoids having to cut into it - which will start your eyes watering.

As for an apple corer - it really depends on the size of your onion. That rough feeling darker brown circular area on the base on the onion givers you a good idea of how large the core is. So if your corer is marginally larger than that, it should work for making the cut. You don't need to go down deep, only enough to break past the top layers, which is maybe about 1/2 an inch (approximately 1.25cm /12.5mm for metric readers).

Then you will just need something to gently lever the core to break it loose from the remaining onion. All I can suggest is give it a go, and let us know how it goes. The worst case scenario is that it doesn't work and you have a few tears in your eyes.
Don't pay any attention to the rudeness. Your method is correct. The root is where the tears comes from. Alton Brown, "Good Eats" Food Network, covered it several times on his show. I don't remember the chemistry but it is part of the plants defense. Besides, who wants to work with frozen onions?

Another way to "reduce" the tears is to hold everything together while you slice the onion, never chop. Cut the ends off. Remove the dead skin. Slice in half. On the first half, slice annually, against the grain. Hold the half together, rotate and finish the "cubing" in the other direction. The key is holding it all together until you finish each half.

Removing the roots first is the best method. It may even remove some bitterness in cooking. Never tried, just an afterthought.
grumpydad (author)  mr.incredible1 year ago
Thank you for your kindness. I can't say I've heard of Alton Brown (wrong side of the Atlantic), but a quick browse on Google suggests to me that he is much like a mixture of Heston Blumenthal and Gary Rhodes from our side of the pond.

Without the root, the onion flavour certainly becomes a little milder and more palatable. Of course there is nothing to say that the root can't be used as a whole for added flavouring; or indeed chopped up, perhaps with a nose clip to prevent tearing up.

It can complicate cutting a little. I still try as much as possible to keep everything together as you mention. Though the lack of the root can lead to collapsing if the knife isn't sharp enough. It also became a lot harder after I misplaced my chef's knife - I must get around to buying another one.

Anyhow, once again, thanks - I enjoyed reading, and responding to your message.