Anyone who has ever chopped, diced or sliced an onion knows that it is no small feat.  With its obscure shape and slippery texture, the onion can be a difficult veggie to handle – especially when they make you cry!  Truth is, no one wants to cut into a tear-jerking food, no matter how delicious it may be.

Well, fellow foodies, I have some good news: the olive branch between man and onion has been extended!  So dry those leaky eyes and let me share with you some simple tricks that I learned during my first days in the prep kitchen.

To properly chop an onion:

If you are ever stuck with the delightful task of chopping many-many onions into itty-bitty pieces, use this technique!  It will save you A LOT of time:

1. Cut the top and bottom off the onion.  You won’t be using these parts anyway, and it is much easier to chop the rest of the onion once they are removed.

2. Peel the skin off the onion, and maybe even the first layer of flesh if it looks a bit dirty.  Remember: if you wouldn’t eat it, don’t feed it!

3. Stand the onion so the stumps of the removed ends are facing up and down, then cut it in half.  Yep, right down the middle.

4.  Take one half of the onion and place it cut-side down on your chopping surface.  Then place your non-dominant hand flat over the rounded top.  Important: DO NOT WRAP YOUR FINGERS AROUND THE ONION!

5.   With a sharp knife in hand, cut horizontally across the onion.  Yes, this means that you will be slicing directly underneath your non-dominant hand, so be careful!  It is also very important that you DO NOT cut all the way through the onion.  Leave about ½ an inch of uncut onion at one end.  Depending on the size of the halved onion you should be able to make 3 or 4 horizontal slices.

6.  Turn the onion so that the uncut end is facing away from you.  Then make 4 or 5 vertical slices, again making sure to leave ½ an inch of uncut onion at the same end as before.  Varying numbers of slices can be made depending on how small you want the final chopped product to be.

7.  Turn the onion back, so that the uncut end can be supported by your non-dominant hand.  Now make vertical slices, as many as you need, until you reach the ½ inch of uncut onion (which can be composted).

8.  Tada! You have succeeded in properly chopping an onion.

This may seem like an overwhelming number of steps to complete one simple task, and it could take you a while to master the technique.  But give it a try!  This method is much faster, cleaner, and frankly a lot more fun than the traditional chop, chop, chop.   Plus, less time with the onion = less time crying over it!

To quell tears, fears, and makeup smears:

We’ve all heard of tricks for how to stay dry around chopped onions, but how many of them actually work?  At home, I used to wear sunglasses whenever an onion and I met over a cutting board, but I think I’ve found a better solution:

As a prep cook, most of the work I do involves chopping vegetables; and as a result, the onion and I have become pretty well acquainted.  In my first shift alone I must have chopped, diced and sliced a dozen of the purple beasts!  I got used to it, though, and eventually moved on to   another task.  It wasn’t until I got home that night that realized something disturbing: in cutting all those onions I hadn’t cried once!  After much analysis, I reached the conclusion that my onion-chopping technique had nothing to do with my dry eyes; and I was right.  Two days later I was again placed on onion dicing duty.  While in the produce refrigerator selecting which ones to chop I noticed something: every onion in that cold storage box was already de-ended.  This got me thinking about my tearless eyes again, and how maybe the pre-cut, refrigerated onions were responsible.

Next time you bring home onions from the grocery store, try cutting off the two ends (top and bottom) to expose some of the onion flesh.  Then store them in your refrigerator until you are ready to chop them.  Though this can be a real pain in the butt, (I mean, who wants to come home and de-end onions after a long day of pantry restocking?) just try it.  If this works, you’ll have found a great way to avoid onion-induced tears in the future!

Disclaimer:  I have only seen this cold-storage method for tear elimination work on purple onions, since those are the only kind we use in the prep kitchen.  Being a lowly freshman with no kitchen of my own, I have not experimented with storing yellow onions in the refrigerator to see if this works to make them tear-free as well.  So if you have your own fridge, yellow onions, and any desire to stop crying over them, please test out this storage method and let me know if it works!

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