The Secret to Cutting Onions Is Sunglasses
We’ve all been there: It’s an idle Tuesday, you’ve been to the grocery store, you’ve laid out all your ingredients with pride and scoured the internet for the perfect recipe, and now it’s time to begin cooking. Naturally, as it is with most dishes, you begin by chopping the onions.
It starts off with a slight swelling in your eyelids. You share a giggle at your sudden “emotional outpour” with whoever’s around you, perhaps you strike a match or dance in circles. Regardless of your efforts, though, along with the cooking, the flood has begun. No longer are you taking suggestions from the peanut gallery, and at this point you have stopped desperately running the tap with hopes that it will soothe the stinging sensation that has come over your eyes… now it’s just downright painful. And you want it to stop.
The onion is part of the allium family of vegetables, which also includes garlic, chives, scallions, and leeks. Onions contain amino acid sulfoxides, which go through a series of chemical reactions after an onion is sliced, eventually producing propanethiol S-oxide. Propanethiol S-oxide is a gas that drifts up towards our eyes, where it reacts with the water in your tears and forms sulfuric acid.
And yes, that sulfuric acid is as bad as it sounds, and the more it burns, the more tears you produce to try to rid the body of the toxin. So, what can you do to prevent this trauma, fellow cooks?
The solution is to create a gas mask for your eyes. That’s right: Throw on a pair of sunnies! I swear by it, or better yet, grab some goggles if you have them—that is if you can handle how they’ll make you look. Happy cooking, Stevie Wonder!