February 2009 Issue
Don’t Cry Over Onions
Onions contain allinase, an enzyme thatís activated when you slice and dice. It interacts with compounds in the onion, releasing a vapor that causes your eyes to sting and tear, though how much varies from onion to onion and even person to person. But donít vilify those volatile vapors, because itís these same sulfur-containing compounds that give onions their distinct flavor and aroma, as well as their health-promoting properties. Several methods have been suggested to make onion-chopping more bearable. All have limited success. Perhaps this "official" trick will work for you: the National Onion Association suggests chilling onions at least 30 minutes before cutting to slow the chemical reaction. Also, use a sharp, straight (not serrated) knife to minimize activation of allinase. And cut the root end last; it has the highest concentration of tear-inducing compounds.
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