Why Do Onions Leave An Aftertaste?

Not all onions have the same level of aftertaste. The red ones have stronger smell and flavour than the white, yellow or brown ones.  The red ones give longer aftertaste than other variants. That is not based on research but based on my actual experience being a mother who has been cooking food for her family for more than 20 years and someone who has eaten onions for over 40 years.

Why Do Onions Leave an Aftertaste?

The answer to this questions is something I had to research on. I checked the internet and below are what I got.

  1. Potent foods, such as garlic and onions, may cause an even lengthier aftertaste because molecules associated with their taste and scent can get into the bloodstream and circulate throughout the body. ..

The compounds are also passed up through the lungs and throat before exiting through the mouth, another way they can contribute to aftertaste.1

As I understand this, the substance or the composition of onions can get into our body through our mouth then goes into our throat and lungs and then back again to our mouth until it is gone. This is the reason why the taste stays even after chewing and swallowing.

  1.  Onions have a unique chemistry with molecules that contain a whole lot of sulphuric compounds. Sulphur is responsible for those pesky tears that pop up anytime you chop an onion, but it is also responsible for flavor and odor. The scientific name for this group of compounds is thiosulfinates. 2

So, the sulphuric compounds (whatever that is) released after cutting onions gives that odor and taste that lingers in our system quite a little longer than any other food.

What Can We Do to Lessen or Diminish the Aftertaste of Onions?

As a personal experience, I always get rid of onion’s aftertaste by simply eating or drinking something sweet such as chocolates and candies or milk and fruit juice.

Eating fruits sweet or sour can also relieve us of onion’s aftertaste.

What are the Alternatives to Onions if You Really Can’t Stand Its Aftertaste?

There are vegetables and herbs that can replace onions in your recipe which do not give that unwanted aftertaste or bad breath. Here are some that I know.

  1. Shallots – Shallots looks like an onion in the outside but it is generally smaller in size. A shallot’s bulb is partitioned like cloves of a garlic. It tastes and smells milder than a regular onion.
  2. Leeks – Leeks are leaves that are used in salads. It tastes similar to onions when eaten raw but does not leave the same aftertaste and strong smell.
  3. Chives- A grass like herb that gives flowers. It is used for garnishing dishes.  Few leaves gives onion-like taste but never stays in your mouth for long.
  4. Kinchay – Also called chinese celery, kinchay does not taste like onions but can give the spice in your dish but keeps your breath smelling good. Instead of sautéing onion give Kinchay a try.
  5. Ginger – A plant which root or rhizome is used as a spice for many dishes and as a remedy for cough or sore throat. This also does not taste like onion but it gives peppery and sweetness to your dish.

When alternatives to onion are not available at the moment, you can follow the advice of many. Soak the onion bulb to a cold water or put it in a freezer for about 10 minutes before chopping. The bad breath and the aftertaste will surely be lessened.  

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