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iamthemob's avatar

Any suggestions for reducing tearing up while cutting an onion?

Asked by iamthemob (17147points) November 25th, 2010

Any suggestions both in terms of what to do before, during, and after would be great.

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27 Answers

phoebusg's avatar

1. Gas mask.
2. The pesky chopper from telemarketing.
3. A cooking slave.
4. Cutting it in a clear bag.
5. Cutting it from a distance.

bob_'s avatar

Wear latex gloves and goggles.

You might look silly, but you certainly won’t cry.

iamthemob's avatar

@bob_ – goggles are, actually, the most practical method that I myself could think of.

cazzie's avatar

Nope… cut it under running water. The majority of the gas will attach to the water and it will go down the drain.

iamthemob's avatar

Thanks – I was wondering if that would work as well.

crisw's avatar

Refrigerate them first. It makes the gases less volatile.

El_Cadejo's avatar

chewing gum always helped me for some reason. Washing really well and refrigerating works well too.

lsdh182's avatar

Put a silver tea spoon in your mouth with the rounded bit sticking out it works for me! Think it collects all of the crying gas.

snowberry's avatar

When I was 19 I had a job cooking in a high volume restaurant. It was my job to make potato salad, and we’re talking a huge vat of it every other day. I had to peel and chop huge bags of onions. It was only a few days of that, and I didn’t tear up anymore. I think maybe you just run out of tears…or something. Have fun.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

Fresher onions seem to out-gas less, at least in my own experience.

Use a sharp knife, too. Not only will the job be quicker and easier, but since you’re slicing more cleanly through the onion, there’s less of the ‘mashing’ action that a dull knife will impart.

Refrigerating or otherwise chilling the onions works well, too, as @crisw said.

gasman's avatar

You need a genetically engineered onion. No problem Silencing onion lachrymatory factor synthase causes a significant change in the sulfur secondary metabolite profile. Just turn off a single gene that makes you cry. Actual story (2008): GM tear-free onion created by scientists. I’m not sure if it’s on the market yet, but I’d feel safe eating it.

iamthemob's avatar

Oooh – no no no, @gasman. There’s no moral objection – but I kind of worry about the GMO effect generally. Plus, plant patents are evil.

gasman's avatar

@iamthemob: I agree that genetic code should always be in the public domain—not like Monsanto’s corn! I understand concerns about “frankenfood” but think most of it is over-hyped hysteria. If you count hybridization and artificial selection as “genetic engineering” then it’s been going on since prehistoric time! Still, safety testing is mandatory.

nisse's avatar

Gordon Ramsey’s take on the topic.. I’ve tried it and it works surprisingly well.

mandybookworm's avatar

there is a certain way you can cut the onion to reduce tears.

Jeruba's avatar

I use the old trick of holding a wooden match (unlighted) between my teeth, business end out. I forget why this works—something about the sulphur in the matchhead absorbing the fumes?—but it does seem to help, provided that I remember to do it before I start cutting the onion.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@iamthemob & @gasman I don’t see what’s wrong with patents on specific genomic combinations or collections. After all, we ‘patent’ collections of words and notes, or daubs of paint or photographs of other things and call it ‘copyright’.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@Jeruba : The matches trick works well for the first three onions for me, then I cry rivers. New matches don’t seem to help, but for less than three, that’s a good one.

xxii's avatar

Apparently chewing gum is supposed to help, but I’ve never tried it myself.

gasman's avatar

@CyanoticWasp A valid view. The dilemma is expressed in an article from Nature:

For some scientists, the concept of patents and other intellectual property protections is troubling, because logic dictates that science will advance more rapidly if researchers enjoy free access to knowledge. In direct contrast, however, is the fact that exclusive rights to intellectual property are required for multimillion-dollar investments in research and development.

Let’s see… Academic freedom versus corporate profiteering. I’m thinking, I’m thinking…

sarahsugs's avatar

Don’t breathe through your nose while you are cutting said onion! Pretend you have a horrible cold and can only breathe through your mouth. This method usually works for me.

Brian1946's avatar


Thanks for the link.
Now that I’ve read it, I think the only time I’ve cried cutting an onion is when I’ve cut the basal plate.

tb1570's avatar

Yeah, goggles, specifically ski goggles. When I lived in a western ski town for quite a few years a few years back I started this habit of my own accord and I’ve never looked back—- a good pair won’t even fog up on you!

beaaach's avatar

Get one of those old school onion choppers from a thrift store….it is a jar that has the chopper inside and has a lid that keeps the fumes in. So that was a dumb answer, because now you need to get it out. Or just use dehydrated onions or already chopped.

I should erase this answer because it is the lamest thing I have ever written,

snowberry's avatar

@beaaach Actually, I think it’s a great idea. Not perfect, but few things are.

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