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Feb 1, 2005 07:02 PM

Help! Cutting onions makes me cry!!

  • c

Does anyone have tips on how to minimize the effect of the vapour from cutting onions? My eyes burn when I cut onions. I can only get through about a quarter of an onion and I have to stop and wash my eyes. I have tried freezing the onion. Sometimes I used my Mini Prep to chop the onion. I have even tried wearing googles, but that keeps me from seeing the onion very well.

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  1. Try placing you onions, as you slice them, in a collander, under running water in the sink. This should help.

    1 Reply
    1. re: 2chez mike

      How do you chop them? With a little practice, the technique described on the pages below goes *very* quickly. If you already use this method and it's still too much, all I can think of is opening a window or getting a small fan...

    2. c
      contact lens

      The only way to completely eliminate any effect from cut onions is to wear contact lenses although I haven't heard of anyone who has gotten cosmetic lenses just to dice onions! As you mentioned, airtight goggles can be a problem.

      Improve your knife skills, make sure that your knife is sharp (crushing the onion makes it worse), and get it over quickly.

      2 Replies
      1. re: contact lens

        I didnt know that about contacts. I guess thats why I dont cry anymore, it works!

        1. re: contact lens

          I agree. I've been wearing contacts for over 30 years, and I NEVER have a problem.

          I wore soft lenses for about 20, but now wear toric. No tears at all! Ever.

          I try a day or two without contacts just to give the eyes a rest. However, if I know I'll be doing onions, I make sure I put in the contacts!

        2. j
          Jeremy Newel

          If you have time enough to plan in advance, peel the onion, then double bag it and refrigerate it for several hours. Chopping a cold onion eliminates the tears for me.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Jeremy Newel

            Yes, refrigerating them actually works for me as well.

            Sometimes, I go as far as dicing a relatively large amount of onions in a food processor then storing it in the fridge in an air tight container. And when I need to use onions, I'll take the amount needed from this stash. This way, my eyes hardly come into contact with the vapours from the onions at all.

            1. re: Jeremy Newel

              The refrigeration tip, which I got from chowhound some time ago, works for me, too. Little to no problems chopping masses of onions anymore, and I was the classic onion crybaby. A room temp onion will make me bawl, and no technique, other than refrigerating the onions, had worked before. As others have noted, a sharp knife is key, too, so you can get through it as quicklessly and cleanly as possible.

              1. re: DanaB

                Um, that should have been "quickly and painlessly" not, "quicklessly," which is the reverse of what you'd like to occur. But to reiterate, refrigerating onions works.

            2. I have the same problem. It looks like I am having a breakdown in the middle of cooking. Someone once told me that if you hold an icecube between your teeth as you cut onions it will make you tear less, but I've tried that and don't think it works, though maybe it would for you! Other than that, the other posting here saying to put them in a colander under running water sounds good, I think I will try that. Also, I'm sure you already know this, but old onions that have been sitting around for a while generally make you cry more than fresher onions.

              1. Years ago Cook's Illustrated tested all methods and found ski goggles the most effective.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Funwithfood

                  I'll second that. A very sharp knife, a cold onion, and an open flame will usually do the trick. But when all those fail, it's time to pull out the ski goggles.