Posts tagged ‘chopping’

How to Chop Onions Without Crying

By Kyle Kurpinski

Plants, like all other living organisms, are composed of cells. When you eat a vegetable, or chop it with a knife, some of these cells are ruptured and their contents are released. Certain plants, like the onion, have developed defense mechanisms against this type of destructive action. When onion cells are destroyed, enzymes called alliinases initiate a series of chemical reactions resulting in the release of synpropanethial-S-oxide (also known as onion lachrymatory factor, or LF), a volatile gas that stings the eyes. To combat the stinging effect of the gas, the lachrymal gland at the corner of each eye produces tears to help wash the irritant away. For the plant, LF is an excellent natural deterrent against roaming herbivores, but for humans, it makes us look quite silly and emotional when preparing salad.

There are many ways to reduce or eliminate the “onion effect” during chopping, all of which involve minimizing your exposure to the noxious LF gas:

1) Chop under water. Copious amounts of water can help prevent LF gas from reaching the eyes. Try peeling the onion under running water and/or chopping the onion in a large water-filled bowl.

2) Chill or freeze the onion. The enzymes required to produce LF work well at room temperature, but are inhibited under colder conditions. By chilling the onion before cutting, you greatly reduce the activation of the chemical reactions.

3) Use a sharp blade. A sharper blade causes less damage to the onion cells, thereby releasing less chemicals.

4) Use a fan. Disperse the LF gas by aiming a small fan towards your cutting area and away from you.

5) Wear goggles. Protective eyewear can help prevent LF gas from reaching your eyes. You’ll need something that forms a seal around your eyes, however; standard glasses won’t do.

6) Do not chop the root. The root of the onion contains a greater concentration of the alliinases than the rest of the plant. By avoiding the root (or at least saving it for the end) you can reduce the amount of LF produced during chopping.

7) Chew gum. This one is a little weirder, and doesn’t seem to work as well for many people, but it’s still an option if you can’t do any of the above. Supposedly, vigorous chewing causes you to breathe more through your mouth, which disperses the LF gas and directs it away from your eyes and lachrymal glands.

8) Use a “better” onion. If you’re desperate for a truly tear-free onion, genetic engineering provides an alternative to freezing and gum chewing. In 2008, researchers at the New Zealand Institute for Crop & Food Research utilized gene-silencing technology to suppress a gene required for LF production. No more LF, no more sobbing over your chopping board.

Broken Secrets

Get secret updates: FacebookTwitterEmailKindle

Source: Wikipedia – Onion, Wikipedia – Alliinase, e-How

Image: Wikipedia

April 11, 2011 at 2:00 am 14 comments

How to Chop Food Quickly, Safely and Easily

The difference between an amateur and a professional is their technique and practice.

In this case, it’s fairly easy to do it like a pro. You just need to know the right technique.

For a quick tutorial, watch this video from Chef Jacob (if you can’t watch the video, read below).

When you’re slicing, dicing and chopping vegetables, you’ll place one hand on the knife and use your other hand to hold the food and guide the knife. The knuckles on your guide hand will maintain constant contact with the side of the knife. You will curl your fingers under your knuckles to protect them from the cutting edge of the knife. Your thumb will oppose your knuckles and stabilize the food. You can see the correct hand position in the photo below:

For those of us who have never been to culinary school or worked in a restaurant, this is a tip that we can really benefit from.

Thanks to Chef Jacob of FreeCulinarySchool.com.

Broken Secrets | By: Chad Upton

Subscribe on: Facebook | Twitter | Kindle

Source and Photo: @ChefJacob

June 29, 2010 at 5:00 am 1 comment


Follow Broken Secrets

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 5,751 other followers

Big Awards


Best Personal Blog/Website (People's Voice)


W3 Award - Copy Writing

Read Secrets on Your Kindle

Categories

Play Hashi Link

Featured by…

• Yahoo
• Business Insider
• NPR
• BBC
• Smithsonian Magazine
• USA Today
• AskMen (and many more...)

Contact Info


%d bloggers like this: