Some people find onions to be delicious, and others can’t stand the taste or smell. Whatever your stance on onions might be, they are known for making even the strongest men and women cry. As onions grow, they begin to absorb the sulfur from the soil in their environment. As they absorb the soil’s sulfur it is then turned into an amino acid called sulfoxide. This amino acid, when interacting with its environment, changes forms into a gas and as you cut this onion, the gas is released. Your eyes notice the unfamiliar gas first and send a message to the receptors connected to your tear ducts and tell the tear ducts to open the floodgates. That’s why onions make you cry. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce the level of gas that is released when onions are cut or cooked. Here are a few simple tricks to remember the next time you slice an onion up.
1. Turn a Fan On
By turning on your stove’s hood vent or a fan in the room, you can prevent the intensity of tears that are bound to come. While you can’t blow away all of the tear-inducing gas, you can minimize it and relieve yourself. As long as the gas is blown away from you before reaching your eyes, you won’t feel the effects. Always be cautious when cutting with a sharp knife especially with teary eyes and high fans. If you truly cannot bear the smell and tears, wearing goggles is suggested. It might look silly, but so does crying over an onion.
2. Freeze It
When the heat comes into contact with the gas located inside the onion cells, it helps release the gas. Cold air prevents the gas enzymes in the onion from forming at all. Place your onion in the refrigerator or freezer an hour or two before use. If you decide to place your onion in the freezer before your meal you may only use it for cooking purposes. An onion will lose its texture if frozen for a long period of time. If you have completely spaced this step and it’s already dinner prep time, run the onion under cold water. If you forget that step, leave the root end of the onion on. The root end is where the highest concentration of gas is located.