How to prevent crying when you cut onions: Home cooks share their fool-proof tricks

Home cooks have revealed their best tricks for preventing tears when cutting an onion, from using a $65 gadget to freezing the vegetable for an hour.

The conversation began when a mother from Victoria posted a photo of her homemade bruschetta – which is traditionally made with tomato, onion and a balsamic glaze.

‘If someone has a magic way to stop me from crying when I cut onions that doesn’t involve goggles or glasses, please share,’ she captioned the image.

The conversation began when a mother from Victoria posted a photo of her dinner - homemade bruschetta - which traditionally features tomato, onion and a balsamic glaze

The conversation began when a mother from Victoria posted a photo of her dinner – homemade bruschetta – which traditionally features tomato, onion and a balsamic glaze

Poll

How do you prevent crying while chopping an onion?

  • Wash it under water 3 votes
  • Wear goggles or glasses 1 votes
  • Use a chopping device 3 votes
  • Put something between your teeth 0 votes
  • Put it in the fridge/freezer 3 votes
  • Keep the root on 1 votes

Now share your opinion

It didn’t take long for hundreds of amateur chefs to step in with suggestions, some more expensive than others.

‘Buy a Tupperware onion chopper. The best buy and worth the $65 I paid. You can also use it on mushrooms so I hide them in spaghetti bolognese for my boyfriend,’ one woman said.

A cheaper variation of this is the 2 in 1 Chopper at Kmart, which for $7 works in a similar way, so said the commenters. 

‘Rinse the onion in hot water after you’ve cut it in half and before you begin chopping,’ said another.

Others suggested putting the onion in the freezer for 10 minutes before peeling and dicing, while another said the fridge will also do the same job in an hour. 

‘Try keeping the “butt” on your onion. That end bit means there are minimal tears,’ another person said. 

A cheaper variation of this is the 2 in 1 Chopper at Kmart, which for $7 works in a similar way, so said the commenters (pictured)

A cheaper variation of this is the 2 in 1 Chopper at Kmart, which for $7 works in a similar way, so said the commenters (pictured)

Why do you cry when chopping an onion? 

Onions produce a chemical irritant known as syn-propanethial-S-oxide. It stimulates the eyes’ lachrymal glands so they release tears. 

While that may sound serious, the chemical will only ever irritate your eyes, it won’t ever cause any permanent damage. Some people have more sensitive lachrymal glands than others, SELF reported.

Cooling down an onion will work – because the chemical is more potent at room temperature – or wearing goggles, but nothing else so long as the irritant has access to your eye. 

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‘Put a matchstick or piece of bread in between your teeth and bite down,’ said one man.

‘Thank you everyone! I think I might go and buy the Tupperware cutter. I cried like a baby tonight and then had to cut the remainder of the onion with my eyes closed,’ the original poster said. 

Onions produce a chemical irritant known as syn-propanethial-S-oxide. It stimulates the eyes’ lachrymal glands so they release tears. 

'Try keeping the "butt" on your onion. That end bit means there are minimal tears,' another person said (stock image)

‘Try keeping the “butt” on your onion. That end bit means there are minimal tears,’ another person said (stock image)

While that may sound serious, the chemical will only ever irritate your eyes, it won’t cause any permanent damage. Some people have more sensitive lachrymal glands than others, SELF reported.

The reason for washing an onion before you cut it, or putting it in the fridge, is because the colder it is the less of that chemical compound is released into the air.

The chemical is more potent when the onion is warm. 

Some people believe that the irritant is found in the ‘butt’ of the onion, but there is no evidence to suggest leaving this on or not cutting into it will make any difference. 

Wearing goggles is also known to help – because you’re putting a physical barricade between your eyes and the irritant.  

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