Crying while chopping an onion is one of the most annoying things about cooking, right up there with trying to get a pit out of a not-perfectly-ripe avocado. Sure, there are tricks to try and lessen the effect, like freezing the onion or wearing sunglasses, but none of them are really ideal (who remembers to freeze them, anyway?).
Thankfully, after decades of work, scientists have found a solution. The tearless onion, dubbed the Sunion, is sweet and crunchy, and unlike regular onions, won’t make you cry. They’re not genetically modified either — the Sunion was created through natural cross-breeding in a program that took more than 30 years (farmers started working on these in the 1980s).
Here’s how it works: When you cut into a normal onion, a volatile compound called lachrymatory-factor synthase is released, and when it hits your eyes, your body produces tears to reduce the irritation. In standard onions, the amount of these compounds typically stays the same or increases over time. But in Sunions, they do the opposite, decreasing in pungency. The result is a sweet, mild-tasting onion that doesn’t release the gas when cut into. Hence, no tears.
Right now, Sunions are only being grown in Nevada and Washington. They were harvested in late summer and early fall, and will be on sale for the first time at the end of December until March or April, depending on supply. It hasn’t yet been decided where they’ll be sold, but you can expect to find them nationwide.
“Sunions growers are currently working diligently with stores and supermarkets across the country to find the best locations to offer this groundbreaking product,” a spokesperson for the growers said.
They look pretty similar to normal onions, but are on the smaller side. Luckily, they’ll last ya… if kept in a cool and dark place, they can stay fresh for up to six months.
In test trials of the onion, people pre-disposed to tearing while cutting an onion chopped compared Sunions to a leading onion variety. According to Sunion, they preferred the tearless onion five to one, and were significantly less irritated by it compared to the normal onion.