Step one, according to nearly every savoury recipe in existence, involves chopping an onion. This simple allium is present in nearly every dish – and, while we love the richness of flavour it brings, we’re less fond of the humble onion’s ability to bring us to tears in seconds.
Thankfully, the onion’s eye-stinging days are numbered after scientists have developed a species of yellow onion that won’t make your eyes water when you chop into it.
The new onion, dubbed the "Sunion", is an invention of Bayer Crop Science, and has been in development for 30 years. Continually breeding the less pungent onions in their program, the farmers and scientists behind the cultivar were able to effectively breed out the troublesome tear-inducing trait.
Onions make us cry when we chop into them because of a component called syn-propanethial-S-oxide. The irritant is a defence mechanism used to ward off critters who might want to take a bite out of the onion bulb. Chopping into the onion releases the chemical which, when it wafts up into our eyes and nose causes us to tear up and sniffle. While chopping into the Sunion right after plucking it from the earth will still cause your eyes to prickle, the creators say that the longer the Sunion is stored the milder it becomes.
Tove Danavor, writing for NPR’s The Salt, sampled the new onion and was astonished: ‘My eyes normally water just thinking about chopping onions, but even when I held a sliced Sunion right next to my open and unblinking eyes, I didn't shed a tear.’
While currently only available in several states in the USA, we can’t wait for the Sunion to reach Aussie shores. Tear-free sausage sizzles here we come!
Recovering caffeine-addict and serial bruncher Eliza Murray feels most at home typing away in a cozy cafe with her re-mortgaged avocado toast nearby. When she isn't reporting on the latest Instagram-shattering glittery food trends, she can be found experimenting with new gin garnishes (hello strawberries!) or biting into an entire wheel of brie (no shame). She tweets @theothereliza