I. Look. Awesome.
Onions make me cry something fierce. Not just cry, but make me incapacitated. So much so, that sometimes I have to prep them hours in advance of cooking, because if I don’t my eyes just won’t function. Interestingly, not everyone succumbs to their tear jerking power. Only about 70% of people cry when chopping onions.
When you chop an onion you release chemicals that would otherwise be separated. These combine to form propanethiol S-oxide, and this gas floats up to your eyeball, combines with water, and forms sulfuric acid. Yes. You heard me. Sulfuric acid IN YOUR EYE! And so. We cry.
Interestingly, cooking the onion denatures the enzyme. That’s why you don’t cry when cooking onions, just chopping them.
My awesome goggles have a layer of foam around the lenses to keep that nasty propanethiol S-oxide away from my eyeball. But if you don’t want to look as rocking as me, here are some other things your can do to keep onion prep from making you look like a little baby…
Use an extremely sharp blade. This will limit the mixing of chemicals by limiting the destruction of cell tissue.
Chill the onion in the freezer for 10-15 minutes, or soak in water. This limits the amount of enzyme released.
Chop the onions under a fan (hood), near a steam source (like a boiling tea kettle), or near running water.
Cut the onions under water.
Rub vinegar onto your cutting board (it denatures the pesky enzyme).
Set up a fan next to your cutting board.
Or you could just wear the goggles. And look awesome when you cook…
The Grilled Atheist