The smart people over at House Foods Group said they have come up with a way to root out the onion's tear-inducing powers for good.
Researchers with the Japanese company have figured out how to weaken the enzymes that play a key role in giving the onion its eye-burning quality. They were able to do that by bombarding the onion bulb with irradiating ions, according to the Agence France-Presse.
The result is an onion that is less pungent and doesn't leave a not-so pleasant odor on hands or your breath, according to the Wall Street Journal.
All of this should result in fewer tears and "more smiles" in the kitchen, the company told the Journal.
As annoying as onion-induced tears are, the feature serves an important purpose: The chemical compounds that allow onions to be seemingly harmless until you cut into them are there for the plant's own survival, chemist Eric Block told NPR:
They are often compounds that will repel insects or animals that try to bite into it. So everything is, I believe, very Darwinian from the standpoint of the chemistry of plants, a very large number of compounds that we view as either being pleasant smelling or unpleasant smelling.
They're not there for our pleasure. They're there to allow the plant to survive in a very hardscrabble world, a world where there are lots of worms in the ground and animals that would devour something that exists as a bulb and has to survive in the ground.
In a 2002 paper, House Foods Group researchers identified a previously unknown enzyme responsible for this process and hypothesized that it would be possible to weaken the function of the enzyme, while still preserving nutrition and flavor in the onion.
In a release on Monday, they announced that they had done just that.
However, here is a bit of tear-inducing news: There are no plans yet to produce tear-less onions commercially.
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