Onion tears are caused by a gas that combines with water in your eyes to produce an acid. GardenZeus expert Darren Butler’s preferred solution to onion tears is to wear airtight goggles, which may also serve pleasingly to contribute to one’s reputation as a nonconformist and freethinking gardener and cook, particularly with friends of teen-aged children or colleagues of one’s spouse when they happen upon you happily cooking in the kitchen while wearing goggles. If this invites humorous comments about the toxicity of your culinary attempts, protection being needed from your cooking, or perhaps about your status as an aeronautical or aquatic chef, feel free to invite the joker to slice the onions for you without the goggles.
Other solutions to onion tears include dicing or chopping onions with a small fan to one side blowing across the cutting board, slicing onions underwater (this does not work so well if chopping or dicing), or sticking your tongue out and breathing through your mouth, which draws at least some portion of the offending onion gas onto your tongue and away from your eyes.
To clear out onion breath, eat a sprig of parsley, rinse your mouth with lemon juice and water, or chew on a citrus peel. Many other acidic or bitter foods, from mustard to various aromatic herbs, will also negate or mask onion breath.
To view customized growing instructions for onion in your area, go to GardenZeus and enter your zip code, then go to onion.