How to cut an onion to get the best taste? This is not the ordinary question people pose when faced with an onion on their cutting board. We usually just worry about not crying and get tears in our dishes. But did you know that your onion slices can have different intensity of taste? And you can actually control that, by deciding how to cut them!
Aren’t onions just the greatest? They’re healthy and tasty and do so much for the layers of flavor in so many of the dishes you have on a daily basis. I like them raw, chopped up or sliced in rings, added to salads, mmm, deep fried as onion rings, but also caramelized, of course. That’s why I was so surprised when I found out that you can cut onions in different ways and the cut you choose has a big impact on the onion’s flavor!
How to cut an onion for the best taste for you
When you cut an onion, it releases flavor compounds that affect its taste, making it stronger or milder. It depends on slicing with the grain or against the grain of the veggie (from the stem end to the root end).
If you slice with the grain (cut it in the middle, between the two ends, and slice the onion into rings), more compounds will be released into your slices and it will sting more when you taste it. But if you slice against the grain, it will release a lower quantity of compounds, and your taste buds will be safer. It all depends on how much you like your fresh onion to sting on your lips and tongue.
If you need a milder onion-y taste, then cut it from end to end. This is how you damage the onion less and keep your mouth safer. If you want to slice against the grain, then start through the middle. Cut the onion in half, and then slice the two halves.
Why does cutting an onion make you cry?
An onion produces the chemical irritant known as syn-propanethial-S-oxide. It stimulates the eyes’ lachrymal glands so they release tears. First, the enzyme synthase is released into the air when you cut an onion. Then the enzyme converts the amino acids sulfoxides of the onion into sulfenic acid. This acid rearranges itself into syn-propanetriol-S-oxide. Which gets into the air and comes in contact with your eyes.
The veggie has a tunic of outer leaves, scales – the white or red firm edible layers -, and the basal plate – the center of the root, the one connected to the hairy part. The chemical irritant is released when you cut through the basal plate.
How to cut an onion without tears?
Use a normal, very sharp, kitchen knife. It should be very sharp to speed up the process. Then chill the onions in the freezer for about 15 minutes. This reduces the amount of chemical irritant released into the air. And it doesn’t affect taste. Cut the onion near hot running water or steamy water. This will help dissipate the vapors from the onions. Breathe through your mouth and stick your tongue out. This will draw the gas over your tongue.
Why keep eating onions?
Because they’re really awesome when it comes to health benefits. They are rich in quercetin, a compound which lowers the risk of cancer and heart disease. Quercetin is a powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties. It also prevents the release of histamines or chemicals that cause allergic reactions.
Onions also contain disease-fighting polyphenols, more than garlic. And they’re also rich in sulfur compounds which have anti-clotting properties, and also help lower triglycerides. They contain chromium, which assists in regulating blood sugar. And help improve immunity thanks to their Vitamin C!