How to: Onion

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Onions are one of those tricky vegetables. I’ve had friends (usually little kiddos) that can’t pronounce it correctly. The most common for a while was yonion. :). And it makes a lot of people cry. I can’t say everyone because I don’t cry cutting up onions, but I run people out of the house cutting up onions. My favorite thing to do IS cut up onions. So I always volunteer to cut onion for people. ALWAYS. 

So why do Onions make you cry?

Onions produce the chemical irritant known as syn-propanethial-S-oxide. The synthase enzyme converts the amino acid sulfoxides of the onion into sulfenic acid. It stimulates the eyes’ lachrymal glands so they release tears.

Do some Onions make you cry more than others?

It takes a lot of precise chemical reactions to produce tears. White, yellow, and red onions all have a higher concentration of the onion enzyme necessary to create syn-propanethial-S-oxide while sweet onions, green onions, and scallions have fewer of the necessary enzymes.

Do different Onions work better for certain things?

And finally…

How to Cut an Onion without crying.

(updated from the original post… pictures from original post)

It is always best to start with a sharp knife. That is a very important step. So make sure that knife is sharp before we start.

Take an onion and cut off the top, don’t peel it just yet.

Lay the onion on the flat part and cut it in half through the root. 

Now it’s time to peel it :). For each half, peel the skin off. If you need, take off the next layer, too. Also, remove any excess root strings. 

Then lay one half on the largest flat part and start cutting in strips – DO NOT cut too close to the root (see where my knife is in relation to the root). It’s the root that causes the tears. 

After slicing across the onion, turn it and then make a couple of slices horizontally – be careful not to cut yourself. Now, Rachael Ray says that an onion is already layered (Shrek agrees onions have layeers…) so she skips this step… Julia Child on the other hand recommends doing this. I say it’s optional :). I’m hit and miss on this step…

Then start to cut from the side. Again, DO NOT cut too close to the root. Also, this is where placement of your fingers matter… Tuck your fingers back and your knife should run across the flat second nuckle of your finger. This is important so you don’t chop off the end of your fingers, plus the finger is used for a guide for the knife.

When you get close to the root, turn the onion onto the flat side and cut more.

When you’re done, all you will have is the root part – and NO tears!   Toss the root in your compost pail and start the other half. 

Now you are ready to add your diced onion (or onion slices) to any dish of your choice. Be sure to check out my Cooking with Me section to find a fun recipe!!

If there are other tips you’d like, please let me know!!

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