I kind of think you should approach an onion the way you would a skunk, should you decide you need to pet one: get in, and get out … because the longer you linger, the worse the experience is going to get.
Maybe in another post I’ll tell you how to pet a skunk …
Now, you might be thinking, “I’ve been cutting onions all my life. Who does she think she is?” or something not quite so nice. But this really and truly is the best way to cut an onion. That’s because until you learn to do this, you’re likely making it harder on yourself.
The first thing you want to do is to cut off the top of the onion. That’s the part showing in the picture at the top of the page. The bottom part is the root end. A lot of people whack that off right out of the gate, and that’s what causes all the problems. Because the second the root is severed, the “tear-making” elements of the onion begin to bleed out. That’s why we cry. Or maybe we cry because we’d rather be doing something other than cutting onions. I don’t know.
So don’t cut off the root end. Instead, cut the top part off, then turn and cut through the onion lengthwise — from root to top.
There’s the root end, cut in half. Yes, you did have to cut through it, but you didn’t cut it off.
Now pick up one of those halves and enjoy peeling an onion for perhaps the first time in your life. Wasn’t that easy? Want to do it again? Patience, you little filly … we have to chop this one first.
Next, lay that half on a cutting board and (UPDATE! UPDATE! UPDATE! Since posting this last year, I’ve taken to reversing the next two steps, and I actually like cutting it that way much better. Instead of cutting vertically and then horizontally, I now cut horizontally and then vertically … but you try it both ways and see what you think) begin to make cuts from the top end to the root end, but do NOT cut through the root. Remember: we’re keeping that intact as long as we can.
Next, turn the onion a quarter of a turn, hold all those cuts together with your left hand (provided you’re cutting with your right), and begin making horizontal cuts from the top almost to the root.
Here’s another angle:
I have to say it one more time: remember to stop just short of the root. You’re only going to make about three of these horizontal cuts … maybe four.
Now, begin cutting vertically from the top to the bottom:
There you have it — beautiful little onion chunks, with very little tear-age.
And all you’re left with is a sad little powerless root.
Wasn’t that the most fun you’ve had all morning? 🙂