Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A great kitchen gadget

I (again) need to thank my in-laws. They got me one of the best holiday gifts ever.

In our heavily used kitchen, DH tends to be the cook, and I like to be the prep cook. I absolutely love the entire process and concept of mise en place. (A few years ago I got a set of 1" glass prep bowls for spices, wasabi, salt & pepper mixes... I love them.)

This is my job, and I like it.
Except for cutting onions.

When I'm wearing my contact lenses, I have little or no problems. The lenses effectively block the tear-producing agents from getting to my eyes.

Oh, and just in case you're curious as to why onions cause tears... it's all chemistry:

Onions are Alliums (includes onions, garlic, shallots) and is actually a member of the lilly family. Alliums absorb sulfur in the soil as they grow. This in turn develops amino acid sulfoxides, called
Propanethial S-oxide.

Propanethial S-oxide is a lachrymator, an irritant that causes your lachrymal (tear) glands to kick into high gear to get rid of the irritant, which in this case, once combined with the eye, reacts to form sulfuric acid, causing the burning and itching sensations that accompany the tears.

In a word, "OUCH."
Sulfuric Acid in eyes = not good.

Here's the solution: onion goggles.

They're clear glasses with padding around the lenses (like swimming goggles without the strap) and it blocks the Propanethial S-oxide from making contact with your corneas. They're in the picture above next to the heaping pile of onions that had absolutely no effect on me whatsoever. I actually leaned into the pile of cut onions and took a deep sniff, too. No reaction.

No vapor contact, no sulfuric acid.

It's a beautiful thing.
They also come in pink.


Unknown said...

Never mind the goggles, where'd you get that great set of bowls?

Sticking the onion in the freezer for a bit before cutting helps cut down on the irritant.

Mark@Rehab Or Die said...

I believe you can get those little nested bowls at Sur la Table, Gene.