6 ways to cut onions without tears

6 ways to cut onions without tears

Written by Pavitra Sampath |Updated : August 9, 2016 3:16 PM IST

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If you love cooking and onions are your arch nemesis when it comes to chopping, then this article is exactly what you need. Here's how you can stop tears from streaming down your face every time you cut an onion.

Why do onions make you cry?

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An onion is made up of three principle parts, the basal plate (the hairy part or the root) the tunic (the outer brown skin) and the scales (the part that we eat). When you cut the basal plate or the shoot, it releases an enzyme that quickly reacts with the rest of the onion to become a gas. This gas easily mixes with water to form an acid. And since our eyes contain a lot of water (in our tears), when you inhale the gas, it reacts with your tear ducts, forms acid and in turn causes an intense burning sensation in your eyes -- which makes your eyes water. But worry no more, here are 6 solutions that will work like a charm.

1. Breathe through your mouth: Breathing through your mouth is one of the best ways to keep the gas away from the sensitive inner lining of your nose and tear ducts. Just make sure you stick your tongue out a little so that the saliva on your tongue reacts with most of the gas, preventing it from entering your nose and eyes.

2. Chill the onion: Cooling an onion works well to deactivate the enzyme. All you have to do is keep the onion in the fridge for about 20 minutes before you take it out and cut it.

3. Soak it in water: This is one remedy that works very well too. Peel the onion and cut the hairy part of the onion. Now cut it into half and soak it in a bowl of water. The gas dissolves with the water and you will not have teary eyes while you cut the onion. The only precaution you should take is that onions tend to become slippery when soaked in water so make sure you cut it carefully and don't cut yourself as you chop the onion.

4. Use a fan: Running a fan to blow away the fumes of the onion in a direction away from you, is also another method to protect your eyes when you cut the vegetable. The fan helps dissipate the gas and prevents it from entering your eyes.

5. Use vinegar to cut the acidic enzyme: An acid like vinegar helps neutralise the acid produced by onions. Therefore a good way to cut the vegetable sans tears is to take a bowl of water, add some vinegar or salt to the solution and soak a peeled and cut onion in the solution. Another good way to use vinegar is to spread some of it on your chopping board as you cut your onion. This will work the same way as soaking the onion.

6. Cut out the basal plate: This remedy is probably the most effective of them all. Since the basal plate is the region that contains the most enzyme, cutting it out is the best way to prevent a teary onion cutting session. What you have to do is first peel the onion and then cut it in half. Now using your knife cut into the onion along the length of the plate. Now do the same on the other side of the plate to form a triangular section. Now pull out that portion and you are ready to chop your onion without tears.

Image source: Getty Images

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