I have the worst time with onions. Almost every single time I’m crying from the first chop until they’re in the pan. Don’t laugh, but the method that works best for me is to chop while standing on a stool. Really, I know it may all be in my head but see, Daniel is pretty tall and he has very little trouble chopping onions so my theory there is that because he’s so much further away from the vapors, they have more time to dissipate before reaching his eyes! Maybe there isn’t much truth to that but I still chop onions standing on a stool. Our other running theory is that his contacts may protect his eyes more too? I’d need to do a study. Anyway. Onions irritate the eyes because of the sulfur they absorb while growing in the ground. Once a raw onion skin is pierced, the chemical reaction is to release the sulfur. Some tips to avoid this? Try refrigerating the onion until cold before chopping, this slows down that chemical reaction and while you may still get weepy, it won’t happen as quickly. Chop with a fan blowing across the chopping board to blow the fumes away from your face. Chop under water! Really awkward and then you may have to dry the onions too before cooking – it is supposed to be very effective though. Always use a sharp knife for chopping anything! While a super sharp knife may cut YOU more easily if you aren’t careful, a dull one is more apt to slip and cause injury too. A combination of being aware and careful and keeping a good edge on your cutlery are the best ways to avoid accidents.
Things I do to reduce bawling over my onions:
- refrigerate them ahead of time (when I remember)
- always start chopping from the top of the onion, not the root (there are more compounds nearer to the root that release the irritants)
- chop on a stool 🙂
- chop quickly!
Another tip for chopping round fruit or veggies is to make a flat surface out of one side. This can prevent accidents trying to hold a round food still while chopping.