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Soaking onions in ice water?

While browsing Epicurious I came across a recipe that recommended soaking red onion in ice water before adding it to a salad. Has anyone ever heard of this? What effect does this have on the onion?

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  1. it removes the stinging bite of the onions and mellows out the taste. the acids that cause your eyes to burn and give that sharp taste are water soluble.

    or something like that :)

    try it though...it works!

    2 Replies
    1. re: eefoodgeek

      Try a five minute soak in hot water first before a dunk in ice water.

      1. re: eefoodgeek

        Definitely works - although I usually chop, put them in a strainer and then soak (that way it is much easier than dumping them all in a bowl and trying to fish them out). Will have to try the hot water and milk methods. Thanks!

      2. I've found that it works. just as eefoodgeek said. taking away the bite, red onions become really delicious, sweet and crunchy. Never tried the hot water/cold water method though.

        1. Is this soaked whole or sliced then soaked?

          1 Reply
          1. I usually soak in water or milk if I'm going to use them raw, either in water or in milk. (Milkd is supposedly better, but I'm not sure I can tell the difference. I think some scientific side-by-side comparison is required)

            There was an older thread on this once:

            1. I usually soak the onion in the acid component of the salad dressing. This works very nicely.

              1. I soak onion slices in MILK! I can't even remember where or when I learned about this, but I have absolutely found that onion slices or chopped onion will become much sweeter with an overnight soak in milk. I've tried non-fat milk but not nearly the success. I'm thinking that the fat in whole millk somehow absorbs the bitter "bitey" qualities of onion. After the soak in whole milk, drain, rinse, and pat dry the onion---you will thank me for this one! I use the aforementioned technique strictly for onion slices or chopped onion that is to be eaten in its raw state, and where I want the onion to be sweet and tasteee. As for why onions might be soaked in ice water, I can only guess that it might give the onion extra crispness, but I don't think it will sweeten the onion like my whole milk soak.

                1. Yes, onions should be at least rinsed if not soaked before being served to eat raw. It's standard technique, one of those things cookbooks omit because they assume you know to do this...