Chopping an onion and having your eyes well up with tears is a rite of passage in the cooking world. It is, as many believe, an unavoidable occurrence. Whenever you cut onions—your eyes will water. Right?
No. You do not have to suffer through watery eyes when you need to cut onions. You do not need to avoid or dislike cutting onions because of the looming possibility of tears. Here are some ways you can minimize and even prevent yourself from crying when you chop onions.
Sharpen Your Knife
The sharper your knife, the cleaner the cut. The cleaner the cut means less of the onion fumes released immediately, which buys you time before your eyes start to well up. If you are able to chop fast enough with your sharp knife, you might not well up at all.
Vent The Kitchen
Want to prevent the fumes from going directly into your eyes? Most kitchens should have a vent above the stove—use it now. While you are chopping the onions, do so close to this vent so it sucks away the majority of the fumes. No fumes means no tears. Your eyes will certainly thank you for it.
Cut Side Down
When an onion is whole, even with the outer skin peeled, there are no tears. The potential for crying begins as soon as you cut into the onion and expose the layers. Help minimize the fumes getting into your eyes by placing as much of the cut side of the onion down onto the cutting board rather than up as you can. This ensures less fumes come up to your face causing the tears. Instead, the fumes just go into your cutting board.
Give Time To Chill
Did you know that a cold onion will release less propanethial S-oxide? This is directly connected to your tears and the irritant resulting in them. There will still be some, of course, but minimizing everything you can means fewer tears in the end. Note you should never freeze the onion, since when a raw onion thaws out, it can turn mushy.