I recently shared a tip on Instagram about using a vegetable peeler to slice onions, and I mentioned in passing that I hate cutting onions because it always makes me cry. And because I have such amazing readers and followers, that passing comment received a veritable flood of helpful replies about ways to cut onions without crying! So I picked out the very best ones, and I’m excited to share them with all of you today! :-)
But first, I wanted to quickly address the obvious question behind this topic—why do onions make us cry when we cut them??
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Why Do Onions Make Us Cry?
When you cut into an onion, the onion releases enzymes that break down into an acidic gas. That gas travels through the air and into your eyes, where it causes a painful stinging sensation. That painful sensation then triggers your tear ducts to release tears as a way to flush out the irritating substance.
In order to avoid those tears, you need to protect your eyes from that irritating onion gas. These 9 tips do just that, and will help you avoid that stinging sensation and the tears that come with it!
9 Brilliant Tips For Cutting Onions Without Crying
1. Freeze Them
According to the Food Network show Food Detectives, freezing an onion for about 30 minutes before you cut it is one of the most effective ways to reduce tears. Freezing helps to reduce the amount of acid enzyme that gets released into the air, making the experience much less painful for you!
2. Breathe Through Your Mouth
When you breathe through your mouth while cutting an onion, the gas will be drawn away from your olfactory nerves. Your olfactory nerves are closely linked to your tear ducts, so keeping the gas away from these areas helps prevent tears from being triggered in the first place.
3. Use A Slicer
One way to minimize your suffering while cutting onions is to get it done as quickly as possible! Use a mandoline slicer or the slicer side of a box grater to slice an onion fast. (And another advantage of using a slicer rather than a knife is that you can keep your eyes farther away from the action!)
4. Chew Gum
Start chewing a piece of gum a few minutes before you start cutting an onion. The gum will stimulate saliva production in your mouth, and saliva can absorb the pain-inducing onion gas. (Just make sure to breathe through your mouth while cutting!)
5. Use Your Exhaust Fan
The exhaust fan above your stove can help whisk the onion gas up and away before it gets into your eyes. Set up a cutting board near the stove, and turn the exhaust fan on before you start cutting the onion.
6. Light A Candle
When you light a candle, the flame draws in the surrounding air to feed itself. You can use this to your advantage by lighting a candle before cutting an onion, so that the flame draws the onion gas away from your eyes!
7. Wear Goggles
The irritating onion gas can’t sting your eyes if it can’t reach your eyes in the first place! Don a pair of goggles before you start cutting an onion to keep your eyes safe and sound. (Yes, you’ll look a bit silly, but it beats looking like you were recently attacked with pepper spray!)
8. Use A Sharp Knife
The problem-causing onion enzymes get released when onion cells are crushed. Dull knives crush more cells than sharp knives do. Make sure your knife is super sharp before cutting an onion to minimize the sting!
9. Utilize Steam
Steamy air rises quickly, and it can help draw onion gas away from your eyes while you’re cutting. Just boil a pot or kettle of water, then slice your onion somewhere close to the rising steam.
Do you have a favorite tip for cutting onions that isn’t listed here?