Friday, 18 June 2010

The Curse of the Red Onion.

Yesterday I made caramelised red onion marmalade. It was a lengthly process, and I spent most of it with tears flooding, streaming, coursing, down my cheeks. They were not the usual tears of excitement and uncontrollable joy that usually accompany my food preperation (okay, so they were a little bit...) but the result of 2kg of chopped red onion.

When my vision became so blurred I risked losing a finger, there was more mascara on my cheeks than my lashes and my shirt was starting to dampen, I decided to do some research into how to prevent onion tears.

There's only one thing scarier than a girl loudly crying her eyes out- and thats a girl with a face set in grim determination, doing it in absolute deathly silence.

It is, like eating semi defrosted food because I just can't wait for it to thaw any longer, one of the many things I do in the kitchen I never want to be caught doing.

When chopped, onions release a chemical irritant, syn-propanethial-S-oxide. This is the fume that gets into your eyes, causing irritation and stinging. I have over the years heard many different tips on how to dodge these inevitable annoyance, many of them sounding suspiciously like old wives tales. Other seem a little more credible. Heres what i discovered;

1. Chew on a toothpick. Really?
2. Cut the skin of the onion under running water (this makes sense, but I found it quite a hassle)
3. Burn a candle close to where you are chopping.

4. Chew gum.
5. Put the knife in the fridge and the onions in the freezer prior to chopping.
6. Suck on a teaspoon.

7. Rub the chopping board with white wine vinegar.

8. And finally, this is a good one. Hold a slice of bread in your mouth!

One onion into 2kg, and I was already streaming. In my desperation, I tried a few of these tips. Simultaneously. I refrigerated the onions and the knife, splashed vinegar about with gay abandon and attempted to suck on a teaspoon whilst holding a peice of bread in my mouth.

Have you any idea how hard it is to have food in my mouth and not eat it?

The good news is, it kind of worked. Not fully, I still cried and blinked, but nothing like the torrential force of the tears that I had cried before. The kind of tears you only see on red-wine- drunk teenage girls. (Trust me, I've been there.)
The bad news is, I'm not sure which of these techniques did the trick. I somehow doubt it was the bread or the spoon.

So, next time you're preparing food in your kitchen and your eyes start to prick, you can either grimly hunch over a pile of vegetables, grasping the knife with tears silently coursing down your face, or you can coat yourself in vinegar and get on with the task, a piece of bread and a teaspoon poking out from the corners of your mouth.

... Either way, you're gonna look like a tool.


1 comment:

  1. Bread in the mouth works for me, actually anything in the mouth seems to prevent tears.