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ONIONS & TEARS

There are many methods recommended for cutting onions to avoid tears. Each method has its supporters. Try each of them, if one works for you, use it.

Methods:

    • cut the root off last;

    • refrigerate before cutting;

    • peel them under cold water;

    • have a fan behind you or alongside to blow the vapors away;

    • place a piece of bread on the knife tip to absorb the fumes;

    • chew gum while peeling and slicing onions.

    • hold you breath and cut them as quick as you can

    • have someone else cut them for you!


Why we cry when cutting onions.

Onions produce the chemical irritant known as syn-propanethial-S-oxide. It stimulates the eyes' lachrymal glands so they release tears. Scientists used to blame the enzyme allinase for the instability of substances in a cut onion. Recent studies from Japan, however, proved that lachrymatory-factor synthase, (a previously undiscovered enzyme) is the culprit (Imani et al, 2002).

The process goes as follows:

    • Lachrymatory-factor synthase is released into the air when we cut an onion.

    • The synthase enzyme converts the sulfoxides (amino acids) of the onion into sulfenic acid.

    • The unstable sulfenic acid rearranges itself into syn-ropanethial-S-oxide.

    • Syn-propanethial-S-oxide gets into the air and comes in contact with our eyes. The lachrymal glands become irritated and produces the tears!

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