With the heatwave hitting the UK, it’s officially barbecue and summer salad season. Two chefs have told Express.co.uk why our eyes water when chopping onions – and how we can avoid it for good.
So why does the simple act of cutting an onion cause such a physical reaction?
Chef Ben Peverall told Express.co.uk: “An onion is made up of layers, with each layer containing little cells full of the irritant that makes your eyes water.
“Every time you cut an onion and break those cells, it’s released into the air, irritating your eyes and making them watery.
“So the more you cut an onion, the more your eyes will sting.”
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Nobody wants to avoid onions all together, so how can food lovers avoid the tingling sensation and the tears?
According to Ben, there’s “not much you can do to prevent this”, but he offered two tips to provide some relief.
“First, try to make fewer cuts in the onion, by reducing the number of cells broken by your knife,” he said.
“I often see young chefs with heaps of chopped onions on a board, chopping it furiously to make it as fine as possible, while their eyes are running all the time – until I stop them and tell them Explain !”
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He said: “Another trick is to put your onions in cold water for at least 30 minutes before slicing them.
The water will help them peel faster and absorb most of the enzymes that would have been released.”
These simple tips should make cooking a more enjoyable experience for everyone.
Ben Peverall is the Executive Chef of the Peak Edge Hotel.
Chef Aleandro Brown is the founder of Food Fusion 95 and the head chef of The Night Owl.