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Eureka! (or how to cut onions with no tears)


bloviatrix
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Let me state for the record that I'm extremely nearsighted. For the most part I wear eyeglasses, but when I'm feeling motivated (in otherwords getting dressed up) I put my lenses in. Today happened to be one of those rare days that I put my lens in (haircut). When I got home I had a lot of cooking to do in the kitchen because of Rosh Hashanah which meant engaging in one of my least favorite chores -- chopping lots of onions.

I'm extremely sensitive to onions, leeks, scallions, anything in the allium family -- they all make my eyes tear. I've tried just about everything: chopping on a counter next to running water, working near an open flame, and even wearing goggles. Nothing ever worked except making someone else chop the onions for me. :laugh:

So, I started on onion number 1 which required a small dice. Normally just slicing the onion in half would start the tears. This time nothing.

Onion number 2 - more small dice. Still no burning or tears

Onion number 3 - medium chop. Still nothing

Are you sensing a pattern??

And so, I've discovered the solution....Contact lenses!!!! Wear your lenses in the kitchen. Your eyes will thank you for it.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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Are you sensing a pattern??

And so, I've discovered the solution....Contact lenses!!!!  Wear your lenses in the kitchen.  Your eyes will thank you for it.

I have worn contact lenses for some 30+ years and my eyes still tear up when I chop onions ... how big are your lenses anyway? :rolleyes: mine are RGP (rigid gas permeables) ...

Wait, here is validation for your point, Bloviatrix:from none other than Cook's Illustrated

We tested over 20 methods for reducing the number of tears shed while chopping onions. If you wear contact lenses you’re in luck – they’re one of the surefire methods of preventing tears. The only other thing that’s as good as wearing contacts is to sport swimming or skiing goggles, which may make you look like a kitchen terrorist, but is extremely effective

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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I have worn contact lenses for some 30+ years and my eyes still tear up when I chop onions ... how big are your lenses anyway? :rolleyes: mine are RGP (rigid gas permeables) ...

I've been wearing soft lenses for about four years. Before that I wore the RGP. The soft lenses are much larger than the gas permeables.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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I made this discovery, but sort of in reverse.

Wearing soft lenses for years, I just assumed my eyes had developed some sort of onion immunity. Recently switched back to glasses, and the tears came right back.

Now I wear a cheap pair of day-glo swim goggles when it's time to chop onions. Quite ridiculous looking, but it gets the job done.

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I had to chop a lot more onions this morning and made a point of putting in my lenses. Admittedly after 4 large ones I was getting a bit of an itch. But no burn and no tears. I guess I'm going to be wearing my lenses with greater frequency. :laugh:

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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additionally, the sharper your knife, the less you'll cry. The cells that hold the volitale "fumes" release more of em when you crush the cells as opposed to cutting them. I keep my santoku sharp enough to make short work of onions, but would fold if i tried to use it for any heavier work.

Andrew Baber

True I got more fans than the average man but not enough loot to last me

to the end of the week, I live by the beat like you live check to check

If you don't move yo' feet then I don't eat, so we like neck to neck

A-T-L, Georgia, what we do for ya?

The Gentleman Gourmand

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I made this discovery, but sort of in reverse.

Wearing soft lenses for years, I just assumed my eyes had developed some sort of onion immunity.  Recently switched back to  glasses, and the tears came right back.

Now I wear a cheap pair of day-glo swim goggles when it's time to chop onions.  Quite ridiculous looking, but it gets the job done.

I'll need to get me some of those!!

I used to rely on the contact lens trick, but got lasik in January.

Better eyesight, but lots of tears!

Danielle Altshuler Wiley

a.k.a. Foodmomiac

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I don't know why this works but it does for me. This is a tip from a good friend of mine. When chopping onions, hold a small chunk of bread in your mouth. Not a whole slice, just a small piece that will fit into your closed mouth.

Try it, let me know if it works for you.

Hal

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One day I was chopping onions on a plank, on a beach and realized I had no tears or discomfort of any kind. The answer: it was a windy day.

From then on, I just blow (continuously, if they are the kind that really bother) on the onions as I chop and the fumes go elsewhere.

Later I was in a real kitchen and the first day I had to prep a whole freakin' sack of 'em. I just set up a small fan by my elbow and chop, chop, chop...

"I took the habit of asking Pierre to bring me whatever looks good today and he would bring out the most wonderful things," - bleudauvergne

foodblogs: Dining Downeast I - Dining Downeast II

Portland Food Map.com

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I sprinkle the work space with a little vinegar. Then when I'm half done chopping the onions I sprinkle them as well. When I'm finished I just quickly scrape them into a sieve and run the onions under running water, shake dry and continue my cooking.

Edited by Wolfert (log)

“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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One day I was chopping onions on a plank, on a beach and realized I had no tears or discomfort of any kind.  The answer: it was a windy day.

From then on, I just blow (continuously, if they are the kind that really bother) on the onions as I chop and the fumes go elsewhere.

Later I was in a real kitchen and the first day I had to prep a whole freakin' sack of 'em.  I just set up a small fan by my elbow and chop, chop, chop...

I stumbled onto this trick, too. Works quite well except for the people downwind. :laugh:

I was also surprised to discover that green onions can cause me to tear up, as well. Granted I was chopping up about a crate full, but by the end I was crying like a Tammy Faye Baker.

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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Well, that must be why I've never been bothered! I always assumed I was just lucky or something, but I am always wearing my contacts except when sleeping, so that must be it! (I lose and/or break regular glasses far too often for them to be practical for me. Thank goodness they make cheap sunglasses -- you wouldn't believe how fast I go through those!)

Come to think of it, I do seem to remember some stinging when I was a kid and still wearing regular glasses. Well, whadda ya know -- guess I'm not so special after all! :biggrin:

Cheers,

Squeat

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Here is my "secret" - I have had lasik surgery also, but just in one eye. I like having super sharp close vision in one eye even though it means I can't see across the room with that one. I lived like that for 60 years.

Anyway, my opthamalogist told me I have chronic dry eye. He said he could give me a prescription but I would get just as good a result with an over the counter product, GenTeal Gel eye lubricant, made by CibaVision.

This is a thick gel which apparently coats the entire eyeball because if I use it prior to chopping onions, shallots, garlic, or ramps - - - I do not tear as much and if I use a nose clip on my nose, I do not tear at all.

I figured this one out years ago when I noticed that if my allergies were active and my nose was plugged, I did not tear as much when chopping onions.

Apparently the volatile gasses affect the nose as well as the eyes.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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OK, so I'm not crazy after all. When I used to wear contact lenses, I could chop onions without much problem with tearing and burning.

Now that I've been back to glasses for a few years, I can't chop onions without feeling like I've been napalmed.

I thought I'd just become more sensitive over the years to the onion fumes, but I guess not. Now I get my husband to chop the onions whenever he's around, because they don't bother him at all (and he has perfect vision, the sod).

Too damned bad I can't wear contacts any more.

:angry:

I don't mind the rat race, but I'd like more cheese.

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I don't know why this works but it does for me.  This is a tip from a good friend of mine.  When chopping onions, hold a small chunk of bread in your mouth.  Not a whole slice, just a small piece that will fit into your closed mouth.

Try it, let me know if it works for you.

Hal

Wow! No one has responded to this. Sounds ridiculous and would probably make a great photo opportunity but I'd love to know if someone tries this and it works!

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it was working on a story on this topic many years ago that actually got me interested in writing about cooking and science. i had interviewed the usual suspects (chefs) and the answers were so all over the place i realized they had no earthly idea. one guy swore the best way was to slip a piece of raw potato under the ball of his foot. i am not making this up. so i decided to find out what it was that created it, and that got me onto a couple of scientists (as someone pointed out, it's the disrupting of the cells ... technically the gases [a kind of sulfur] are not enclosed in the cells, but are created when the chemicals within the cells combine when the cells are ruptured ... if you want more, go buy "french fry"). interestingly, there is still some disagreement among scientists whether this reaction occurs only in the eye or also in the upper sinus.

i have very sensitive eyes (and, presumably, sinuses) and have tried everything short of going back to contacts and nothing works very well. i keep my knives sharp and i cut quickly.

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