Hold back those tears and start eating “sunions”

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/01/15/hold-back-those-tears-and-star.html

What does it taste like though? It’s ability to not sting one’s eyes isn’t much of a concern with me, but if it tastes the same raw or cooked is of more importance. Also what’s the cost? If it costs more then fuck that give me my crying onions.


Beat me to it. Those questions need to be answered before I would even consider switching.


Huh. I wonder if I would find these any more digestible than regular onions (which for me, are not)


what about those poor souls that cry at really bad puns BoingBoing, what are you doing for them?!?


You can probably extrapolate from existing onions. The sulfer compounds in onions are already variable between types.

Red onions have an awful lot of them. So they make you cry a lot, And have a noticeably “hot” burnt, strong taste when raw.

White and yellow onions. Have slightly less of it. They make you cry about the same but taste less harsh raw.

Sweet onions (like vidalia) have previously had the least. So less eye pain and they taste sweeter and much less acrid when raw.

All three extent varieties taste about the same cooked. Because the only real difference is lower sulfer compounds. Not any increase in sugar or other flavor compounds. And cooking breaks down those sulfer compounds.

So these new ones should taste sweeter and milder raw. And about the same cooked.

Also we’ve been breeding onion varieties to reduce the tear inducing sulfer for centuries. And even developing knife techniques to minimize them as well.


You know, I can only think of a handful of times in the last 15 years or so (the period of time where I took up cooking for myself) where onions made me cry. I mostly use yellow or white onions, but sometimes red.

Have all onions been getting less tear inducing, or is it a thing you can develop a resistance to?


Uh, no…
I mean, yeah, you obviously know of what you speak. We’ve been 'round before.
I don’t cook or do much of anything with sweet onions because they don’t have very much flavor.
If these new onions take over the market I’ll be sad, angry and have to tell them to get off my lawn.


Or… just put the onion in the freezer for a bit before cutting it?


Or chile-to-any-other sensitive tissues, esp. mucous membranes. Trust me on this, you don’t want to replicate the experiment. By the way, it lasts a long time.


Thank you. What I might have said, but way better. I’ve seen ‘super sweets’ in the store and wonder if these are the same. They also tend to be quite large.

I don’t think you can develop a resistance to it, acid in your eyes doesn’t seem like the kind of thing that gets better with repeat exposure.

I would say I’ve only cried over onions a few times in the last decade, but yesterday was one of those times and it was totally over the top. Since we’re talking about releasing a spray of chemicals by running a knife through a plant and then having that spray get to your eye, I think the number of factors that influence whether any given session results in tears vast.


Yeah there’s no resistance one can build to the vapor of onions. I’d say usually onions don’t typically affect me (i keep mine in the fridge) but every now and then i will cut one up that will tear me up and sting my eyes like no one’s business.

If these Sunions truly are nice it’d be relatively easy to buy one and grow your own if a person was inclined to do so and had a green thumb.

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Mostly agree, but your comment about red onions seems odd.

Red onions are often milder raw, which is why people put them raw in salads and such, or in sandwiches, which you wouldn’t usually do with white or yellow onions.


I simply turn on the 600cfm range hood and cut next to the range if I’m doing a large amount. No problem. Chiles, whooo boy! Have I ever screwed that up! Don’t rub your eye or pick your nose! (Cmon, you know you do it when no one’s looking) I try to remember to put a rubber glove on my left hand.

My wife insists on Vidalias when we grill onions, I might do a side by side to see if the “no difference cooked” is true. But I love raw yellow onions, and she can’t stand raw onions. I cut my own little bowl to put on salads.

I think that’s more down to the individual variety. Or just the onions themselves. If I’m remembering it right the sulfer compounds don’t provide anything in the way of flavor. And the stinky end of them is created when you break up cells by cutting it chewing the onions. (same reason garlic is milder the larger you cut it). And then they just break down in cooking. Older onions have more of the sulfer compounds than fresher. And just like anything else. Onions grown poorly will be bland, often those destined to be shipped long distance or long storage. Or even just those stored wrong. Storing onions under refrigeration fucks them all up.

I don’t do much with vidalia or walla walla onions (the two big varietals/brands of sweets) because I don’t feel the need to spend more for an onion that tastes and cooks the same in the end.

Yeah people say that. I think they have less of the specific compounds that make you cry in them. Though in a practical sense it doesn’t seem to matter much (Shits are like shallots). But go stick some fresh cut red onion in your mouth. And then do the same will yellow.

Which one is milder?

Every single red onion I’ve ever eaten raw is noticeably “spicier”. And thats why people stick them in salads. Less stank. More burn.


Perhaps the factor here is I recall lots of onion crying when I was a kid, and I’m just taller now.


Seems like concentration of onion-mist will reduce by distance cubed, other things being equal.


I don’t think a “spray” is how it works. There are compounds in the onions cells that start combining with each other and the air to create new, noxious ones when you break up cells. The more cells you break up the more you get. And the more sulfer there is to start the more you get. Your basically releasing a couple different unpleasant sulfer gas when you chop up an onion. So really strong onions (you get old one sometimes you get a milky onion juice leaking out of the things) can effect someone who’s nowhere near the onion.

A sharp knife minimizes broken cells, so it avoids a lot of the crying. As does avoiding direct cuts to the root area. And cutting the onion longitudinally, as in “frenching” releases less than cross cutting. The more cuts (and smaller the pieces) The more crying and stink.


Yeah, “spray” is probably a misleading word. If you imagine crushing a cell then stuff would spray out, but that spray would never get to your eye, instead it would get into the air and waft up to your eye.