If the mere thought of cutting onions sends you rummaging for a tissue box, you’re not alone. This culinary task has brought many a strong man and woman to tears. But what if we told you that world-renowned celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay has a unique technique that could keep your tears at bay? Intrigued? Let’s dive right in!
Onion Cutting Technique Quick Takeaways
- Onions release a gas that interacts with our eyes, causing tears.
- Different types of onions cause varying degrees of irritation.
- Gordon Ramsay’s onion-cutting technique minimizes the release of this gas.
- Safety measures like wearing safety glasses or chilling the onions can reduce irritation.
Understanding Why Onions Make Us Cry
Research shows in an article from Science Direct that onions contain an enzyme called alliinase. This enzyme is released when the onion is cut or crushed, converting a certain compound into what is known as the ‘lacrimatory factor,’ which causes tears.
When cut, an onion releases a synthase enzyme (Via the Library of Congress), which transforms the onion’s amino acids sulfoxides into sulfenic acid. This unstable acid then restructures itself into syn-propanethial-s-oxide, which irritates our eyes and causes them to tear up when it comes in contact with them. When it comes into contact with your eyes, this gas creates a burning sensation and leads your eyes to produce tears to ease the discomfort.
Now, imagine you’re chopping onions for a famous onion soup. The robust Vidalia onions will cause less grief than the potent white variety, thanks to their lower sulfuric compound content. So, if you’re sensitive, choose your onions wisely.
How You Slice Onions Matters
Most of us chop off both ends of the onion, peel it, and then chop it up. This method, though common, is a tear-jerker. Gordon Ramsay’s technique, on the other hand, is a game-changer. As Gordon Ramsay shows us in this video
First, chop the onion’s top, but leave the root end intact. This is a crucial step as the root contains the most alliinase; leaving it intact means releasing less eye-irritating gas.
Next, peel off the outer layer of the onion. Now, hold your onion with the cut end facing upwards. Make a series of horizontal cuts towards the root, followed by a series of vertical cuts. Finally, chop the onion from the top end towards the root.
According to Masterclass, the ‘Three Finger Rule’ can enhance precision and safety during cutting. Experts state that positioning one finger in front of the herb bundle and two fingers behind while anchoring the hand on the board protects the hand and prevents damage to herbs.
This method minimizes the release of tear-inducing gas, enabling you to chop onions without becoming a sobbing mess.
Onion-Cutting Hacks For Tear Prevention
Now you know the secret to Gordon Ramsay’s tear-free onion-cutting technique. But wait, there’s more! Here are a few additional hacks to make this task even easier on your eyes:
- Chill your onions: Putting them in the freezer for 10-15 minutes before cutting them slows down the release of the alliinase enzyme. Hence, less gas is produced.
- Wear safety glasses: This may make you look like you’re about to conduct a science experiment, but it’s effective. The glasses provide a barrier between your eyes and the irritating gas released from the onions.
- Use a fan: Position a fan to blow across your cutting board. The fan will blow away the gas, preventing it from reaching your eyes.
- Consider contact lenses: If you wear them, you’re in luck. Contact lenses create a protective layer over your eyes, reducing the impact of the gas.
With This in Mind
By now, you should be well-equipped to tackle your next onion-chopping task like a pro, Gordon Ramsay style. Remember to choose your onions wisely, use the correct technique, and take additional safety measures if needed. So, go ahead and chop those onions without fear. Happy tear-free cooking!
Last Updated on October 15, 2023 by John Siracusa