170 countries across the globe grow onions, totalling around 9.2 million acres of onions harvested annually. Onions are packed full of goodness: crammed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, the onion is also very low in calories. The onion forms the basis of most culinary dishes in a multitude of different cuisines around the world.
Everyone from expert chefs to culinary novices know that onions can make you cry. An expert from the Texas A&M College of Medicine has explained why onions bring a tear to your eye.
He says that the reason why onions make your eyes water starts from underground. Onions are grown underground, amongst the creepy crawlies beneath the surface who are on the hunt for something to eat. Onions have evolved with a special way of protecting themselves from being consumed.
The sulphur in the ground combines with the growing onions and creates amino acid sulphoxides; these are sulphur compounds that are easily turned into gas. When an onion is opened, the sulphoxides and onion enzymes are released: creating a sulphenic acid. This sulphenic acid and onion enzymes react and create a syn-propanethial-S-oxide gas. This gas makes the human eye tear, and also deters animals away from the onion. Sweet onions, green onions and spring onions have less of the enzyme, hence why they don’t make you cry as much, or at all.
Onions & Our Eyes
Our eyes are very sensitive, protecting one of our most important senses of our bodies. It is quite remarkable that they have a defence system to harmful gases. Our eyes contain a set of nerves that detect potential harm and react by trying to flush out the gas with tears.
In actual fact our eyes are over reacting, the gases produced from chopped onions are more of a nuisance than harm. The gas would not cause more than irritation, and has no known long-term effects. The sensation is temporary, and would not worsen any other pre-existing eye condition.
Some people are more effected by the gas onions release than others. Some people do not tear up when chopping an onion, whilst others may feel the effects from the other side of the room.
How to Avoid the Onion Tears
Preventing the gas entering your eyes will obviously stop the gas reacting with your eyes, you could wear goggles.
Some people cut onions in a bowl of water. Some people use eye drops to help lubricate the eye and dilute the gas exposure.
Other handy tricks include cutting the onion under an extraction vent, that will remove the gases before they hit your eyes. Another sworn by trick is to freeze the onion for 15 minutes before chopping, which inhibits the onion releasing the gases.
There has even been discussions about genetically modifying onions to remove the alliinase enzyme that causes the tears.
M&P Engineering is a UK based manufacturer of onion peeling machines. With onions featured in a large majority of international dishes around the world, the demand for peeling onions at a high speed for commercial use is great. M&P’s machines are world leaders, being famed for their ability to expertly peel smaller onions and shallots, as well as unusually shaped onions such as the Indian Onion. Ordinarily onion peelers struggle to peel small onions, or Indian onions, but the M&P large onion peeler is available in two versions, one for larger onions, and the shallot peeling machine for smaller onions and shallots. They also manufacture a small machine for pickling onions. The M&P onion peeling machine does not hold the onion during peeling unlike some other commercial peelers and uses compressed air to remove the skin. M&P’s machine is a dry onion peeling process, and is able to process up to 750kg of onions per hour. The hassle-free maintenance onion peeling machine is loved as it produces peeled onions comparable to hand peeled onions, with little waste, and at very high speeds.
M&P Engineering also develops and manufactures other food processing machinery such as depositors and fillers. Their food depositors and food filling equipment is designed for countless applications, such as filling free flowing products and solids. M&P offers an extensive range of supporting attachments and accessories and can also design and develop bespoke nozzles and systems. M&P provides all their customers with a comprehensive warranty with excellent customer care. M&P also supplies refurbished and used food processing machinery.
For more information about M&P’s products of services, call us on 0161 872 8378 or contact us here.