While onions impart savory dishes a depth and sweetness, the compounds that make them so flavorful can also bring you to tears. Onions contain sulfurous compounds. When they get released into the air while chopping or slicing, they react with enzymes and turn into chemicals that can really aggravate your eyes. To help wash away the irritants, tear-producing glands in your eyes (or lacrimal glands) go into overdrive, causing a case of the weepies. Follow these tips to help turn off the tears:
1. Feel free to vent.
Turn on the overhead kitchen hood while cutting an onion to suck away the scent – and prevent tears.
2. Chill or freeze onions first.
Warm air encourages the unstable, irritating compounds from onions to release into the air. Lowering the temperature can help reduce the amount of tear-inducing chemicals that travel from the vegetable up toward your eyes.
3. Gear up with goggles.
Yes, onion goggles exist, and for many people they work. Find them in specialty cooking shops and home stores.
4. Get fresh (or sweet).
Spring onions (they're fresh, not dried) and sweet onion varieties such as Vidalia purportedly induce less crying. Try spring onions in spring and summer, and switch to sweet onions in fall and winter to curb crying