Peeling onions often leads to teary eyes because they release a gas called propanethiol S-oxide. When this gas comes in contact with the moisture in our eyes, it forms a mild sulfuric acid causing the familiar stinging sensation. Here are some methods to minimize the tears:
Use a Sharp Knife:
- A sharper knife causes less damage to the onion’s cells, reducing the amount of gas released.
Chill the Onions:
- Place the onions in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes before cutting. The cold reduces the amount of gas released.
Cut Under Running Water:
- Though a bit cumbersome, this method can prevent the gas from reaching your eyes.
Use a Vent or Fan:
- Positioning a fan or vent to blow the gas away from you can help.
Avoid Cutting the Root End:
- The root end of the onion has a higher concentration of the enzymes. Leave it intact until the end.
- Some people swear by using kitchen goggles to protect their eyes from the onion’s gas.
- Slice off the top of the onion and peel the outer layers without cutting the root end. Make vertical cuts around the onion, then slice downwards without slicing through the root.
Remember, even with these tips, you might still experience a little tearing, but they can significantly reduce the discomfort. Happy cooking!