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Friday, 26 July, 2002, 12:48 GMT 13:48 UK
No tears over new onion
an onion
The no-tears onion was developed in Lincolnshire
A new variety of onion developed in Lincolnshire tastes milder and is less irritating to the eyes, researchers say.

Available from supermarkets next month, the vegetable has a distinctive pale, thin skin and is easy to peel.

It contains less of the chemical that makes people's eyes water.

The new onion follows work on testing and classifying onions.


I love the flavour of strong onions - I don't know whether this milder variety would have the same effect

Shane Osborn, chef

"Supasweet has a crunchy texture and a delicate sweet flavour," said grower Paul Cripsey, of FB Parrish and Son in Bedfordshire.

"They are delicious eaten fresh."

Scientists say the onion has lower levels of pyruvate, a chemical released when the vegetable is cut open.

The pyruvate is what makes the eyes stream.

The onions were created after government-funded research found a way of analysing the strength of the vegetable for the first time.

Onion tasting

Due to the difficulty of onion tasting - restricted by the limited number of samples a person can taste in succession - there has until now been no reliable way of analysing their strength.

But a three-year Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs project, co-ordinated by the Lincolnshire-based Allium and Brassica Centre, developed a classification system.

The centre tested hundreds of types of onions before coming up with the sweet-tasting variety.

Sceptical chef

Shane Osborn, head chef at London's Pied a Terre restaurant, was not completely convinced by the idea.

"I love the flavour of strong onions, I don't know whether this milder variety would have the same effect.

As for the peeling, we are so used to doing it, it doesn't bother us any more."

Supasweet onions, which have been shown to be scientifically mild under the system, will be available in some supermarkets from 12 August.


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30 Sep 99 | Health
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