Why do we cry when cutting onion?

Why do we cry when cutting onion?

The tears They can spring from our eyes for many different reasons.

Grief, joy, pain. There are a lot of reasons for crying, but one of the most curious is the one that arises just when we have to cut an onion.

It does not matter in rings, julienne or small pieces. It is enough that the knife comes into contact with this vegetable so that we begin to cry as if there was no tomorrow. But why do we do it? We unconsciously think about the feelings of the onion? Does it hurt us to be cooking when we could be drinking teas on a summer terrace? Well no, the reason has absolutely nothing to do, because the thing is not about feelings, but about chemical reactions.

The substance that explains why we cry when cutting onion

As you know, onion is a plant and as such it is an organism composed of plant cells.

In turn, these cells contain within them a substance, called trans – (+) – S- (1-propenyl) -L-cysteine ​​sulfoxide; which, in addition to having a very simple name to remember, turns out to be the first culprit of the cry of which we speak to you.

It is all because tear cells with the knife this compound leaves its place and comes into contact with the allinase, an enzyme also present in onion that intervenes in the originating reaction of three new compounds: pyruvate, ammonia and a gas called Syn-propane-S-oxide.

And precisely this gas is the last culprit of everything, because when reaching the eyes reacts with water present on the surface, giving rise to sulfuric acid that, like good acid, give rise to burning and irritation.

But our eyes are a Swiss watchmaking machinery prepared for almost any setback, so when coming into contact with this acid they originate what is known as reflex tears, who are in charge of hydrate the eyeball in response to an aggressive stimulus that could be harmful.

How can we avoid crying while cutting onion?

The amount of urban myths It is huge around the tears of the onion, so you have probably heard of more than one bizarre trick, like putting another piece of onion on your head while cutting.

Knowing the cause of crying, this method does not seem useful or pleasant for the smell of hair, but I do know that there are some tricks which can be useful.

For example, something as simple as cut the onion as far away from our face as possible or carry out the process under a jet of water It can help irritant gases not reach the eye.

It is also interesting to note that most of these irritating substances are found in the heart of the vegetable, so the way of cutting it can also help to avoid tears, as our colleagues in Cocinillas tell us.

And if not, we will always have diving glasses, which prevent this compound from reacting with the water of the eyeball.

Finally, as a last option, there are those who avoid using onion in culinary creations such as potato omelette, but it is not necessary to take such drastic measures. After all, a tortilla without an onion is not an omelette. At least for many people, including myself.

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