Herald and Journal
Herald & Journal, October 19, 1998

Onions - those crying eyes


There's nothing that smells more appetizing than onions cooking in a frying pan. But, getting the onion to the skillet can be a tearful experience. There are many old wives tales on how to peel an onion without getting tears in your eyes.

Here are some of the myths:

  • While cutting an onion, bite down on two matches.
  • Stick a piece of toast between your teeth.
  • Cut the onion underwater.
  • Clench a wooden spoon between your teeth.
  • Hold your breath and chop fast.
  • Chop on top of the stove with the exhaust fan running.
  • Freeze the onion for 30 minutes; enzymes are slowed by the cold.
  • Throw them into a food processor and have a pan ready.
  • Wear goggles. But don't forget to remove them before serving your guests.

I'm sure some of these methods work for some cooks some of the time. I've always wondered why do onions make you cry while slicing or chopping them? From what I've found, a knife ruptures an onions cell, throwing together sulphur compounds and enzymes, which go straight to the eyeball. About the only sure-fire method to keep from crying is to avoid cutting the onion . . . hard to do when the recipe calls for chopped onion.

Here are some other food half-truths.

  • Chocolate causes acne.
  • A pregnant woman must eat for two.
  • Fish is brain food. Pasta sticks to the wall when it's done.
  • Eat your carrots and you'll have good vision. (Ever see a rabbit wear glasses?)
  • Water will stop the burn from eating hot chili peppers. (Gulping water is the worst thing you could do. Dairy products is the answer.)
  • Browning meat seals in the juices. Giving children sugar makes them hyper. (Not necessarily, but it will raise your dental bills.)

So there you have it. The latest on food half-truths. Eat your veggies and quit your bellyachin'.

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