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At the latest when it comes to prepare goulash for several people, defensive measures must be taken against the sharp bulb onions. After all, it is then about cutting poundwise onions and preferably without tears. Cutting onions without tears, there are many tricks and tricks. Surprisingly, most of them make sense. All that remains is to pick the most practical solution for yourself. After all, it is not everyone's thing to stand on the chopping board with diving goggles or hanging tongue.
Who knows what causes the burning in the eyes, will also be able to quickly recognize which techniques are useful and which make less sense. Once an onion is cut, it starts. It forms a gas that rises immediately in the nose and in the eyes. Each onion cell contains iso-alliin, a sulfur-containing amino acid, in the outer cell layer. Inside the cell lurks an enzyme called alliinase. With a cut through the bulb both compounds come into contact with each other. The enzyme breaks down the amino acid and it is propenoic acid. This acid is added to other compounds, in addition to oxygen from the air and it creates the irritating exhaust Propanthial-S-oxide. If this gas now hits the eyes and the respiratory tract, defensive measures are immediately taken to remove the irritants. It is howling, as the saying goes, snot and water. A small consolation in advance. Although this is more than unpleasant, it is by no means harmful to your health.
The onion uses this compound as protection against predators. This can be the bite of a vole or just a cut with the knife. Different types of onions also develop gases of different strengths. Even rearing, origin and harvest time of the same onion varieties can develop different levels of irritant gases. On the other hand, we humans react differently sensitively. While some people already burst into tears when chopping parsley and radish, others only need the strong stimuli of a fresh, common household onion. The brown onion is one of the harshest onions. She is especially rich in iso-alliin. This defense substance can also benefit us humans. The therapeutic effect of the onion is indicated in medicine among others as antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and germicidal.
Already with the selection of the right cutting tool one can mitigate the escape of the gas. A smooth cut through the cell walls, with a very sharp knife, does not allow the two trigger substances to come together so quickly. However, if the cells are squeezed simultaneously during cutting, by a blunt tool, the juices will squirt out and react immediately. The first measure, then: use a sharp knife! With just one onion, that can be enough to keep from bursting into tears. In addition, at least one sharp all-purpose kitchen knife in every kitchen should be part of the basic equipment.
Even simple, simple measures can greatly reduce the irritation to the eyes and the respiratory tract:
- Instead of standing, cut the onions while sitting. Automatically, eyes and nose are no longer directly above the cutting board, but slightly offset to the rear.
- When cutting the onion, open a window or let it pass. If you can work near an open window, you will probably be able to chop up one or two onions without causing tears.
- Most contact lens owners know it already. If you wear the lenses instead of glasses, you will not cry so fast when cutting onion.
Anyone who manages to breathe through the mouth when cutting onion is almost on the safe side. The gas, which is inhaled through the nose with the breath, passes through the olfactory nerves. These are close to the lacrimal glands, which are involved in the same. So no air through your nose means no tears. By a short self-experiment you can convince yourself of the effect quickly. When cutting onions, open your mouth, nose to:
- Who can, breathes disciplined through the mouth or uses a nose clip.
- Whistle a little song while taking a breath only through the mouth. Due to the air flow from the mouth, the rising gases are additionally derived from the face.
- The topic of nose also includes swimming goggles. If it is just a pair of glasses that only airtight seals the eyes, so that the gases can pass unhindered into the nose, it will still come to tears. Here then a combination with the nose clip would be useful.
- Not everyone may like to work with their tongues hanging out while mouth breathing in the kitchen. But would also be a possibility.
The following methods may require some preparation or certain tools may be required:
- Sounds a bit strange, but should be effective. Light a candle to the right and left of the chopping board. The rising gas is attracted by the flames of the candles.
- Cut the onions close to running hot water...
- ... or near a pot of boiling water, from which sprightly clouds of steam rise. The haze in the kitchen may not be for everyone. No more than the waste of hot drinking water from the tap.
- Pay attention to the correct draft, or generate it by a fan yourself. Of course, the airflow should be directed sideways from the cutting board to divert the rising gases from the face.
- Another breezy option is to place the cutting board on the stove. Then the cooker hood is switched on, to full power.
- Also chemical control methods are possible. However, you can influence the taste of the onion. Acid and saline solutions denature the enzyme allinase from within the cell. For this effect, you can either add some vinegar to the chopping board or put the onion in salt water for some time.
- Even with a previous cooling of the onions to achieve a mitigation of the irritant gases. When cut into the cold onion, fewer enzymes are released into the air. The onions are placed in the freezer for about five minutes. In the normal refrigerator, they would have to cool down for up to 20 minutes.
There are also tricks that you can read from time to time, but that are either difficult to perform or that simply do not help:
- Cut onions in water. Cue, yes, where are they swimming, the onion cubes? Valuable ingredients are simply washed away.
- The same problems should arise when cutting onions under running water.
- Just as little is a longer soaking in water advisable. The onion is then not only slippery and therefore difficult to keep, but also valuable ingredients are washed out and the onion loses its sharpness.
- Often you will also find the tips to chew bread or chewing gum. It may distract you, but it does not stop the gases from entering your eyes and nose.
With this abundance of measures, everyone will find out the best technique for cutting onions. There will hardly be a reason to give up these healthy and tasty vegetables because of the irritating mucous membrane. Perhaps the simplest and most useful tip is definitely to use a sharp knife. Not only does this make life easier and faster for all the chopping and chopping work in the kitchen, it also makes it easier to work with it.