Friday, December 14, 2007

No more onion tears!

Onions and shallots make me sob, not a couple of tears but full on gushing. Even just peeling and cutting in half to throw into the food processor makes my eyes start running. I've tried a variety of techniques: wearing contacts, wearing goggles (now that's pretty), keeping onions in fridge, cutting them in a bowl of water (messy and too hard), and finally I just gave up and let the tears and mascara run down my face...until now!

I read a tip in Cooks' Illustrated to cut onions near an open flame such as a candle or a gas burner. Since I have a gas stove and my cutting area is right next to it, I decided to give it a try. If I am cooking the onions anyway, I figured I could warm the pan and the oil while the burner is on thereby killing a couple of birds with one stone.

Et voila! It worked. The fumes from the flames counteract the fumes in the onion that burn the eyes. So put a candle nearby or get that skillet warmed up next time you have to cut up an onion.

I love those Cooks' Illustrated people! They have such good ideas. If you know of other techniques that work, let me know.


Joe said...

Swim goggles work for me. I look like a big nerd, but no more tears.

Anonymous said...

Onions? Flame? What's the mechanism - anyone know?

Kelly said...

"When an onion is cut, the cells that are damaged in the process release sulfuric compounds...Those compounds, which are separate in the onions cell structure, activate and mix to form the real culprit...thiopropanal sulfoxide. When [it] evaporates, it irritates the eyes...[A] flame, which can be produced by either a lit candle or a gas burner, changes the activity of the thiopropanal sulfoxide by completely oxidizing it." The Best Recipes, p. 20.

Andy said...

Awesome!! I'll have to try this next time.