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Onions add depth and sweetness to savory dishes, but the same compounds that make them so flavorful can also bring you to tears. Try these tips while preparing holiday meals.

Onions add depth and sweetness to savory dishes, but the same compounds that make them so flavorful can also bring you to tears.

Did you know that onions are rich in sulfur? When you chop an onion, you’re releasing sulfurous compounds and enzymes into the air. Mixed together, they form an eye-irritating gas. Your eyes react to this gas by producing tears.

Tears can help wash away these irritants, but they also blur your vision — and that’s dangerous when you’re handling a large, sharp knife. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to clear the air.

Keep your kitchen breezy

oven hood

Open the windows, turn on the fan above your stove or use the overhead kitchen hood while you work. This will sweep away the eye-irritating mist that rises from chopped onions.

Chill onions before chopping

refrigerator open

Onions’ irritating compounds waft most easily through warm air. Chill onions in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes before chopping to keep these compounds from rising up toward your eyes. 

Have you heard of onion goggles?

kid in onion goggles

Yes, onion goggles exist! And for many people, they work quite well. Find them in specialty cooking shops and home stores.

Experiment with fresh or sweet onions

spring onions

Spring onions are fresh, not dried, and they’re less likely to bring you to tears. The same goes for sweet onion varieties such as Vidalia. Try using spring onions during the spring and summer months, and switch to sweet onions in the fall and winter.

Article shared from the AAO

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