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Onions – The Tear Jerker of Vegetables

Onions – taking over the world one stinging eye at a time. Stinging eyes while chopping an onion is a fact of life, but we’re here to tell you the “why” behind the cry.

Crying while cutting onions is difficult to avoid because when you cut into an onion you are releasing the onion’s stored amino acid sulfoxides, a chemical irritant to our eyeballs. As onions grow underground, they absorb sulfur from the ground, creating the amino acid sulfoxides that make us weep. The sulfoxides trigger the release of reflex tears, an involuntary reaction, to rid the eye of the invading irritant.

How can you avoid the teary assault? The best way is to wear goggles—either swimming goggles or specially designed kitchen goggles—to create a seal that keeps the chemicals away from your peepers. Although this is your best bet, it’s quite difficult for someone wearing glasses. If you don’t feel like balancing goggles and glasses, try sticking your onion in the refrigerator instead. This causes the molecules to slow down and makes it more difficult for the chemicals to get to your eyes.

May the anti-onion forces be with you!

Onion Goggles from Sur La Table 

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