How to properly chop an onion

  • Celebrity Chef, Gordon Ramsay, is a critically acclaimed chef and TV personality. Among his restaurants, he has been awarded 15 Michelin stars. In the culinary world, these stars are reserved only for restaurants that purchase produce seasonally, are kept to the highest standards in the world, and provide a unique dining experience. 

Onions are one of the most commonly used ingredients in the world. It is one of the few key ingredients that can be found in a variety of different cultures. At the same time however, it is one of the greatest obstacles an inexperienced chef can face. Horror stories of chopping onions involve the burning of the eyes and pouring tears…

When I worked as a cook, you quickly realize the importance of chopping  onions without burning your eyes out. YouTube was a critical tool in figuring this out and saved me a ton of pain.

Let’s put an end to this and teach everyone how to cut an onion.

Here’s a quick link to a page giving you the basics about onions.

Why do onions make me cry?

-When you cut through an onion, you’re essentially tearing through the cells. Chemicals in the onion are released and form a sulfuric gas. The moment this gas reaches the water coating your eyes, it forms sulfuric acid…and burns your eyes. Pretty crazy stuff for such a commonly used ingredient.

What can I do to prevent this? —There are tips all across the web, but these are the two simple tricks that saved me many tears.

  1. Since the gas is released from slicing through the onion cells, make sure your knife is as sharp as possible. This makes your cuts as clean as possible and reduces the amount of gas escaping from the cells.  (see knife care post for more info)
  2. Before you begin cutting, rinse your blade under cold water. Remember that the sulfuric acid is formed once the gas touches the water coating your eyes. By having some water run down the edge of your blade while cutting, much of the chemical reaction occurs closer to the cutting board instead of your face. Think of this like a little water barrier that catches the gas before it rises to your eyes.

-Fortunately, most of us aren’t cutting hundreds upon hundreds of onions in our home kitchens. These two little tips helped me overcome the beginner obstacle of onion cutting. It’s also a skill that you’ll be able to hang on to for the rest of your life.

-If you don’t use all your onions in one session, put the remainders in a ziploc bag or plastic container. You can leave it in the fridge like this for 2-3 days tops.

Hope this helps and good luck!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s