COOKING IN LANGLEY: Stop the crying, already

Chef Dez offers a variety of tested and untested theories for cutting onion, to avoid water works.

Probably the most frequent question I get asked is “how do I prevent crying when cutting onions?”

No one enjoys this eye burning sensation followed by what seems to be an emotional breakdown.

The watery eyes are caused by a chemical gas that is released from the onion as it is damaged by cutting.

This chemical gas then reacts with the natural tears in our eyes and turns into a mild form of sulfuric acid which our eyes then water more to flush away the irritant.

In my many years of cooking, I have heard numerous ways to help prevent this reaction… some more effective than others and it is my pleasure to share these findings with you.

I have heard that burning a candle near the cutting board will help because the flame will burn off these releasing gases. However, through my trial and errors all I have found is the tender glow from the candle just makes you look more romantic while you are crying.

I have also heard stories that holding a spoon between your teeth, or a slice of bread hanging out of your mouth will eliminate any tears from shedding.

The theory was presented to me that the metal of the spoon offers a chemical reaction with the gas to disperse it, while the bread would simply soak up the gases before reaching one’s eyes.

We brought up these theories during a cooking class one evening and there was a man claiming to be a scientist in the crowd.

He explained that it isn’t what you are holding between your teeth that matters, just the fact that you are biting onto something… or anything!

When holding something between your teeth, your breathing pattern changes and you tend to inhale/exhale through your mouth more and thus the gases have a harder time reaching your eyes.

I have tried this on many occasions with a wide variety of objects hanging out of my mouth (yes, my wife still thinks I’m handsome) and it does work for the most part, but not 100 per cent.

There is a rumour floating around the chef’s society that if one cuts their onion in a certain fashion that the number of fumes being released from the onion will be limited.

However, I have yet to find what technique this is, and I highly doubt this theory anyway.

Knowing that you will be working with an onion for dinner, one of the best bets is to toss it in the refrigerator that morning or at least an hour or two beforehand. Hot and warm air/gas rises, where cold air/gas doesn’t. This will keep fumes much lower to the cutting surface and less out of your eyes.

Cutting onions near your overhead fan of your stovetop is also an option if it is powerful enough to suck the fumes in that direction and away from your eyes.

Using a summer fan on a stand, positioned to blow in the opposite direction of where you are standing at the cutting board is also ideal.

Even better would be to have a mini-sized fan that sits on the counter, or clamps onto a cupboard, for these tearful chopping moments.

Lastly, I want to tell you about the method that I use more often than the others: Onion Goggles. Yes, goggles specifically made to keep these harmful onion vapours away from your eyes that can be purchased from any specialty food or kitchenware stores or online.

They have a foam backing and they sit on your face just like glasses without pressure on your eye sockets or face from other so-called solutions such as swimming goggles or ski masks.

I have cut many an onion with this great invention and since they come in an array of colours too, not only will your eyes and cheeks stay dry, but you will also look stylish.

Dear Chef Dez:

I have heard putting your onions in the fridge before cutting them helps to keep me from crying, so is it okay if I always keep my onions in the fridge?

Nicholas K., Surrey

Dear Nicholas:

It is important to know that it is not good to use the refrigerator as a permanent storage solution for your onions – it will cause premature rotting and/or sprouting of your onions – because it is too humid and dark.

••••

– Chef Dez is a food columnist and culinary instructor in the Fraser Valley. Visit him at www.chefdez.com. Send questions to dez@chefdez.com or to P.O. Box 2674, Abbotsford, B.C. V2T 6R4

Just Posted

Serious crash closes Highway 1 at 232 Street

One vehicle burst into flames, victim airlifted to hospital following Thursday evening collision

Township continues flood evacuation alert in Northwest Langley

Township of Langley takes cautious approach as Abbotsford rescinds Glen Valley alert

Three arrested in Aldergrove stabbing

Downtown areas cordoned off with yellow crime scene tape, under police watch

Thieves steal $2,200 in supplies from Langley Community Farmers’ Market

Two people took off on bicycles with tents, flags and table coverings

Langley uke man marvels amid Royal wedding merriment

Peter and Sandy Luongo were in London Saturday for the nuptials of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

Vancouver Island girl scores with winning song for BC Summer Games

‘Colours’ is a perfect theme for 2018 BC Summer Games

Drivers could pay $8 per day to help cut gridlock under new plan

Mobility pricing report outlines two existing models to cut Metro Vancouver congestion by 20-25%

B.C. pipeline goes ahead despite scrapped Pacific Northwest LNG

NEB approves amendment for $1.4-billion natural gas North Montney Mainline Project

Update: Wildfire northwest of Kamloops jumps from 60 to 800 hectares

Ground crews and aircraft are responding to an estimated 50 hectare wildfire approximately 55 kilometers northwest of Kamloops, near the Deadman Vidette Road.

Feds limit chinook fishery to help killer whale recovery

Chinook is main food source for only 76 southern residents killer whales left

B.C. mom who died just before daughter’s wedding wanted family to be happy: twin

Ann Wittenberg was pulled into the ocean while on a surf board in Tofino last weekend

Courtenay-Alberni MP calls for lifeguards at popular surf spot near Tofino

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is defending its decision to cancel the surf guard program.

Harvey Weinstein to surrender in sex misconduct probe: officials

Would be first criminal charge against Weinstein since scores of women came forward

Fuel truck crash closes B.C. highway, sends two to hospital

The Trans-Canada Highway on Vancouver Island is expected to be closed until Thursday evening

Most Read