How much do you think about vegetables beyond which ones are your favourite?  How much do you really know about them?  You may be surprised about the facts behind your favourite vegetables.  Like why you cry when you cut onions or why people plant large patches of thyme in their garden.  Keep reading to learn these facts and more.

Quick Onion Fun Facts

A chemical reaction is the reason why people cry when they cut onions.  When you cut an onion, it releases amino acids sulfoxides, which then turn into sulfenic acids.  The sulfenic acids then mix together with enzymes from the onion to produce propanethiol S-oxide, which is a sulphuric chemical.  The sulphuric chemical, being in a gaseous state, comes into contact with the water in your eyes and causes a burning sensation.  In response to this irritation, your eyes release tears in an effort to remove the irritant. 

As a side note, when the onion is being cooked, the heat inactivates the enzyme, so that it will no longer irritate your eyes. 

There are a few things that you can do to prevent crying when you cut an onion.  These include:

  • Wear safety goggles,
  • Run a fan to pull the sulphuric gas away from you,
  • Place the onion in a bowl of water and then cut it, and
  • Keep the onion in the fridge until you are ready to cut it, as the cold air in the fridge will slow the chemical reactions inside the onion.

Other Vegetable Fun Facts

I bet you didn’t think onions could be that interesting, did you?  Well here are some more interesting facts about other vegetables.  See how many of these facts you already know. 

  • Watermelons are actually vegetables!  They are in the same family as cucumbers, pumpkins and squash.
  • The world’s largest watermelon on record weighed over 260 pounds.
  • In England, it is tradition to plant large patches of thyme because it is said that these patches are playgrounds for fairies.
  • Carrots can help you to see better in the dark.  That’s because carrots contain lots of Vitamin A, which helps to prevent “night blindness”.
  • Frozen vegetables can be more nutritious than fresh vegetables.  Fresh vegetables take a lot of time, once they have been picked, to reach the supermarket.  The more time between picking and eating, the more nutrients they loose.  Frozen vegetables however are usually processed and packaged on the same day they were picked; therefore they maintain the maximum amount of nutrients. 
  • The top green leaves from beets can lightly boiled and then eaten, just like spinach.  In fact, beet leaves are the most nutritious part of the vegetable.
  • Two common varieties of peas include snow peas and snap peas.  Snow peas are picked before the peas inside have a chance to develop, so that the pea pod is still very flat and tender.  With snap peas however, the peas are allowed to grow and then both the pod and the peas inside can be eaten either raw or cooked.