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Title:
TEARLESS ONION CHOPPER
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2009/014681
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The present invention relates to methods and devices for cutting produce, such as onions and other vegetables. More particularly, the present invention relates to methods and devices for minimizing exposure to noxious and irritating gasses that are emitted from certain freshly cut produce, such as the Syn-propanethial-S-oxide gas that is emitted by freshly cut onions. In certain preferred embodiments of the invention, a device is provided for cutting onions, which comprises (i) an open-ended container that is adapted to hold a liquid and (ii) a slicer that is capable of cutting onions when submerged in the liquid that is housed within the container.

Inventors:
RIZVI, Syed (200 North Yale Street, #112Hemet, CA, 92544, US)
Application Number:
US2008/008870
Publication Date:
January 29, 2009
Filing Date:
July 22, 2008
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
RIZVI, Syed (200 North Yale Street, #112Hemet, CA, 92544, US)
International Classes:
B02C23/36
Foreign References:
US20050178865A1
US3814316A
US6585179B2
US6467711B2
Download PDF:
Claims:

What is claimed is:

1. A device for cutting produce, which comprises (i) an open-ended container that is adapted to hold a liquid and (ii) a slicer that is capable of cutting the produce when submerged in said liquid.

2. The device of claim 1, wherein the produce is onion.

3. The device of claim 2, wherein the liquid is water.

4. The device of claim 3, further comprising a means for pushing the produce into and through the slicer.

5. The device of claim 3, further comprising a means for pushing the slicer into and through the produce.

6. The device of claim 3, wherein the slicer is configured to be removably placed within or directly adjacent to at least one opening of the container.

7. The device of claim 6, wherein the slicer is configured to hold produce within a chamber, wherein the slicer having produce disposed in said chamber may be inserted into the container.

8. The device of claim 7, wherein the sheer and container have an outer perimeter, wherein the outer perimeter of the slicer has a shape and size that is substantially similar to the shape and size of the outer perimeter of the container.

9. The device of claim 8, wherein the slicer comprises at least one cutting member selected from the group consisting of a single blade, multiple blades, and a grid of intersecting and parallel blades.

10. The device of claim 9, wherein the container includes one or more pores through which the liquid may be drained.

11. A device for cutting onions, which comprises:

(a) a container having an opening at the topside thereof, wherein the container:

(i) is adapted to hold water,

(ii) has an outer perimeter that is substantially circular in shape, and

(iii) includes a plurality of pores through which the water may be drained;

(b) a slicer capable of holding and cutting at least one onion, wherein the slicer:

(i) has an outer perimeter that is substantially circular in shape and is configured to be placed adjacent to the opening of the container,

(ii) has an inner chamber that is configured to hold at least one onion and may be reversibly inserted into the container, and

(iii) comprises one or more blades capable of cutting the at least one onion; and

(c) a means for pushing the at least one onion into and through the slicer to produce a plurality of onion pieces, wherein the onion pieces are forced into the container and submerged within the water housed therein.

12. A method for cutting produce and minimizing exposure to noxious gasses resulting therefrom, which comprises cutting at least one sample of produce into multiple pieces using a slicer, wherein said pieces are immediately forced and submerged into a liquid.

13. The method of claim 12, wherein the produce is onion.

14. The method of claim 13, wherein the noxious gas is Syn-propanethial-S-oxide.

15. The method of claim 14, wherein minimizing exposure to Syn-propanethial-S- oxide reduces the tear-causing effects thereof.

16. The method of claim 12, wherein the liquid is water.

17. The method of claim 12, further comprising the step of (i) pushing the produce into and through the slicer or (ii) pushing the slicer into and through the produce.

18. The method of claim 12, wherein the slicer is configured to be removably placed within or directly adjacent to an open-ended container, wherein the container is adapted to hold the liquid.

19. The method of claim 18, wherein the slicer is configured to hold at least one unit of produce, whereupon the slicer and produce may be inserted into the container.

20. The method of claim 19, wherein pushing the produce into and through the slicer cuts the produce into multiple pieces, wherein said pieces are immediately forced and submerged into a liquid housed within the container.

Description:

Tearless Onion Chopper

By: Sy ed Rizvi

Tearless Onion Chopper

Cross-Reference to Related Applications

[001] This application claims priority to, and incorporates by reference, U.S. Patent Application Serial Number 11/880,515, filed July 23, 2007.

Field of the Invention

[002] The field of the present invention relates to methods and devices for cutting produce. More particularly, the present invention relates to methods and devices for minimizing exposure to noxious and irritating gasses that are emitted from certain freshly cut produce.

Background of the Invention

[003] It is well-known that various types of freshly cut produce emit noxious gasses that, for example, irritate eyes and cause unwanted tear production. Such gasses have also been implicated in abnormal vision, anxiety, fatigue, lack of concentration, mood disorders, decreased productivity, potential cardiovascular problems, and central nervous system abnormalities. Of course, these symptoms may affect the social, personal, and professional lives of individuals, particularly culinary professionals (and others working in the food industry).

[004] Among the most well-known gasses is Syn-propanethial-S-oxide, which is emitted from freshly cut onions. Indeed, most are familiar with the irritating and tear- causing sensation that results from cutting and chopping onions in open air. Syn- propanethial-S-oxide is both gaseous at room temperature and water soluble. The formation of Syn-propanethial-S-oxide peaks at about 30 seconds after mechanical damage to an onion and completes its cycle of chemical evolution over the course of about five minutes. As the gas leaves the onion and begins to mix with the air, it may quickly contact and dissolve in the watery film that covers a person's eyes. This combination produces sulfuric acid, which irritates the nerve-endings found in the cornea, resulting in elevated tear production until such acid is sufficiently diluted and/or removed.

[005] A number of devices have been developed in attempt to minimize the extent to which such gasses contact a person's eyes during onion cutting procedures. Many of these devices employ mechanical means, such as chambers, to trap such gasses in attempt to prevent eye contact. Other devices have used forced air to sweep away such gasses and prevent the same from contacting a person's eyes.

[006] Many of these devices, however, suffer from one or more drawbacks. For example, many of these devices (i) are not able to prevent a substantial portion of the undesirable noxious gas from contacting a person's eyes, (ii) leave the gas trapped in a chamber which must later be cleaned (thereby potentially exposing the user to such gas

during the cleaning process), (iii) are not adapted for household or individual use, and/or (iv) require the use of elaborate and expensive fans, motors, or other machinery. In light of the foregoing, a continuing need exists for improved devices and methods that may be used to cut produce while minimizing exposure to certain noxious gasses that are emitted by such freshly cut produce, e.g., minimizing exposure to the Syn-propanethial-S-oxide gas that is emitted by freshly cut onions.

[007] As the following will demonstrate, many of the foregoing needs are provided by the present invention.

Summary of the Invention

[008] According to a first aspect of the present invention, a device for cutting various types of produce is provided. The device of the present invention is particularly useful in cutting various types of produce, while minimizing exposure to noxious and irritating gasses emitted therefrom, such as the tear-causing gasses emitted by freshly cut onions. In certain preferred embodiments of the invention, the device comprises (i) an open- ended container that is adapted to hold a liquid (e.g., water or other appropriate solvent) and (ii) a slicer that is capable of cutting the produce while submerged in such liquid. The invention encompasses a first design whereby the produce is cut within the open- ended container while submerged in a liquid. The invention further comprises a second design whereby the produce is cut within a separate container including one or more

cutting members, such as one or more blades, whereby the separate container is inserted into a container and submerged into a liquid housed therein.

[009] In certain embodiments of the invention, the device further comprises a means for pushing the produce into and through the slicer or, alternatively, a means for pushing the slicer into and through the produce. In other words, the device of the present invention may further include a means for forcing the produce, e.g., onion, into contact with the slicer or, more particularly, the cutting members thereof, which causes the produce to be sliced, diced, or cut into multiple pieces.

[010] According to another aspect of the present invention, methods for cutting produce and minimizing exposure to noxious gasses resulting therefrom are provided. The methods of the present invention generally comprise cutting at least one sample of produce, such as onion, into multiple pieces using a slicer, whereby such pieces are immediately forced and submerged into a liquid, such as water. In certain preferred embodiments of the invention, methods of reducing exposure to Syn-propanethial-S- oxide, and the tear-causing effects thereof, while cutting onions are provided.

[011] The above-mentioned and additional features of the present invention are further illustrated in the Detailed Description contained herein. All references disclosed herein, including U.S. patents and patent applications, are hereby incorporated by reference in their entirety as if each was incorporated individually.

Brief Description of the Figures

[012] Figure 1: A drawing of a non-limiting example of a container that may be used in connection with the present invention.

[013] Figure 2: A drawing of a non-limiting example of a slicer that may be used in connection with the present invention.

[014] Figure 3: A cross-sectional view of various non-limiting examples of cutting members that may be used in connection with a slicer described herein.

[015] Figure 4: A top-side view of the pusher, container, and slicer components described herein.

[016] Figure 5: A drawing illustrating the arrangement of the container, slicer, and pushing means described herein during operation.

[017] Figure 6: A drawing showing a slicer described herein being inserted into a container and secured thereto.

[018] Figure 7: A drawing showing a pushing means being inserted into a slicer that is disposed in a container.

[019] Figure 8: A drawing of a non-limiting example of a pushing means that may be used in connection with the present invention.

[020] Figure 9: A drawing showing another design of a slicer described herein being inserted into a container, and a pushing means disposed in the slicer.

[021] Figure 10: A drawing showing the slicer, pushing means, and container of Figure 9.

[022] Figure 11: A drawing of additional, non-limiting examples of slicers that may be used in the present invention.

Detailed Description of the Invention

[023] The following will describe in detail several preferred embodiments of the present invention. These embodiments are provided by way of explanation only, and thus, should not unduly restrict the scope of the invention. In fact, those of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate upon reading the present specification and viewing the present drawings that the invention teaches many variations and modifications, and that

numerous variations of the invention may be employed, used and made without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention.

[024] According to a first aspect of the present invention, a device is provided for cutting produce. The device of the present invention is particularly useful in cutting various types of produce, while minimizing exposure to noxious gasses, such as the tear- causing gasses emitted by freshly cut onions. Referring to Figure 1, the device comprises an open-ended container 2 that is adapted to hold a liquid. The container may, optionally, include a handle 4 or other means to assist in holding the container stationary during operation. In addition, the container preferably comprises one or more pores 6 through which the liquid contained therein may be drained. The container may be configured as a cylinder, having a circular-shaped opening (outer perimeter) 8. Those of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate, however, that any other configuration may be employed, such as square-shaped containers (or containers having an outer perimeter 8 of any other suitable shape).

[025] The device of the present invention further includes a slicer 10 that is capable of cutting a sample of produce when submerged in the liquid that is housed within the container 2. The slicer 10 is preferably configured to be removably placed within or directly adjacent to the opening of the container 2. Referring to Figure 2, the slicer 10 shown therein comprises an outer perimeter 12, an area 14 that consists of or is adapted to receive a cutting member (not shown), and, optionally, a chamber 16 in which produce may be inserted. The cutting member preferably consists of a blade or rigid wire that

may be used to slice produce. In certain alternative embodiments, the cutting member may employ other cutting means, such as ultrasonic cutting systems (or other non- mechanical cutting means). In the embodiment shown in Figure 2, for example, the cutting member resides near the bottom portion 18 of the slicer 10. In such embodiments, the cutting member may be permanently or reversibly attached to the chamber 16. More particularly, in the case of reversibly attachable cutting members, the cutting members may be replaced when they become dull, or a user may wish to select a cutting member having a specific configuration.

[026] Referring to Figure 3, the cutting members used in the present invention may consist of a single blade 20, multiple parallel blades 22, or a grid of intersecting and parallel blades 24. The invention provides that multiple parallel blades 22 or a grid of intersecting and parallel blades 24 may be used depending on whether a user wishes to chop produce into slices (using multiple parallel blades 22) or if the user wishes to dice or cube produce (using a grid of intersecting and parallel blades 24). In such embodiments, the blades may be reversibly attachable to the slicer 10, such that a desired number of blades may be provided to the slicer 10 in order to produce the slices or cubes of the desired dimensions, and may also be easily replaced if the blades become dull.

[027] As mentioned above, if the cutting members may be reversibly attached to the slicer 10, a user may select the desired configuration of cutting members to be used with the slicer 10. As used herein, the term "blade" encompasses any rigid object capable of cutting produce, such as a sharpened edge, a rigid wire, or similar object. The cutting

member has an outer perimeter 26 that is substantially similar in shape and size to the portion 18 of the slicer 10 in which the cutting member will reside. For example, the bottom portion 18 of the slicer 10 shown in Figure 2 has a generally oval shape. Accordingly, the outer perimeter 26 of the cutting member in such embodiments will preferably have a corresponding oval shape. Of course, those of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that the outer perimeter 26 of the cutting member, and the portion 18 of the slicer 10, may exhibit a circular, square, or other geometric shape, so long as the two are similar in shape and size to one another.

[028] The invention provides that the cutting member is disposed within the slicer 10. In certain embodiments, the cutting member is formed integrally with the slicer 10, such that the cutting member is formed as a permanent component thereof. In other embodiments, the cutting member may be reversibly inserted into the slicer 10 vis-a-vis a mechanical engagement. For example, the portion 18 of the slicer 10 may be threaded, whereby the cutting member comprises a corresponding thread allowing it to be screwed into the bottom portion 18 of the slicer 10. In other embodiments, for example, the cutting member may be "snapped" into the bottom portion 18 of the slicer 10. When the cutting member may be reversibly inserted into the slicer 10, various cutting members exhibiting different blade configurations 20,22,24 may be selected by the operator of the device (in accordance with the size and type of produce slices or cubes the operator wishes to generate). See also Figures 4 and 11. Still further, the cutting members may be disposable (thereby avoiding the need to clean the cutting member following each use) or

replaceable (such that dull blades resulting from continued use of the device may be replaced).

[029] Referring to Figure 2, the sheer shown therein includes an outer perimeter 12 that is similar in shape and size to the outer perimeter 8 of the container 2. Referring to Figures 5 and 6, when the outer perimeter 12 of the sheer 10 is similar in shape and size to the outer perimeter 8 of the container 2, the sheer 10 may be placed over and adjacent to the container 2. In this embodiment, the bottom portion 18 of the slicer 10 may be inserted into the container 2, such that the outer perimeter 12 of the slicer 10 rests on top of the container 2 (Figure 6).

[030] In the foregoing embodiments of the present invention, the device comprises a slicer 10 having a chamber 16 that is configured to receive and hold produce. More particularly, the volume of the chamber 16 is sufficient to receive and hold a sample of produce, e.g., an onion 32 (Figure 10), of typical dimensions.

[031] The device of the present invention may further comprise a pushing means 28, also referred to herein as a "pusher," which may be used to force a sample of produce into and through the slicer 10. Referring to Figure 8, for example, the pushing means 28 may comprise any rigid object that may be placed on top of a sample of produce when disposed, e.g., within the chamber 16 of a slicer 10, such that by applying force (or pressure) to the topside of the pushing means 28, the produce is forced into and through the cutting members of the slicer 10. The pushing means 28 is preferably configured to

have an outer perimeter 30 that fits within the chamber 16 of the slicer 10 (Figure 7), such that the chamber 16 may receive the pushing means 28 as the produce is forced through the cutting members thereof.

[032] In certain preferred embodiments, the device of the present invention may be operated by filling the container 2 with a liquid, e.g., water or any other appropriate solvent. A sample of produce may be washed and/or peeled, e.g., as in the case of an onion, under running tap water. The produce may then be placed within the chamber 16 of the slicer 10, which is placed adjacent to the container 2. More particularly, in certain preferred embodiments of the invention, the bottom portion 18 of the slicer 10 is inserted into the container 2, such that the outer perimeter 12 of the slicer 10 is adjacent to and rests upon the outer perimeter 8 of the container 2.

[033] The pushing means 28 may then be placed on top of the sample of produce, whereby an operator may press or force the pushing means 28 downward, thereby forcing the produce into and through the cutting members that are located near the bottom portion 18 of the chamber 16. By forcing the produce into and through the cutting members, the produce is cut into pieces and immediately extruded into the liquid within the container 2. Moreover, any noxious and irritating gas emitted by such freshly cut produce, such as the irritating gas emitted by freshly cut onions, is immediately dispersed into and dissolved in the liquid (thereby avoiding dispersion thereof into the air and contacting a person's eyes and nasal cavity). The liquid (containing the dissolved gas) may then be drained out of the container 2 through the pores 6 located therein (leaving the cut produce pieces

behind). In certain alternative embodiments, the slicer 10 may be removed from the container 2, a screen may be placed on top of the container 2, and the container 2 may be inverted, thereby allowing the liquid to drain therefrom (while retaining the cut produce pieces).

[034] In certain alternative embodiments of the invention, the slicer 10 does not include a chamber 16. In such alternative embodiments, the produce may be submerged in liquid and placed directly in the container prior to cutting, whereby the slicer 10 consists of an outer perimeter 12 and cutting member disposed therein, which may be applied and forced through the produce while submerged in the liquid that is housed within the container 2.

[035] The device of the present invention, including all components thereof, such as the container 2, slicer 10, and pushing means 28, may be constructed of any suitable material, such as stainless steel, plastics, other polymers, or combinations of the foregoing. Preferably, the device is constructed of a material that may be washed in conventional dish washing machines.

[036] As described above, the device of the present invention may be configured in various ways. Referring to Figures 9 - 11, the container 2, slicer 10, and pushing means 28 may be configured to be substantially cylindrical, such that the slicer 10, having any of various types of cutting members (Figure 11), may be provided with the subject produce 32 and disposed in the container 2, which has been provided with a sufficient

volume of water. As described herein, the pushing means 28 may then by inserted into the slicer, and used to force the produce 32 into and through the cutting members of the slicer 10, such that the produce 32 is cut into many small pieces and immediately disposed in the water, which is effective to trap and dissolve the released Syn- propanethial-S-oxide gas. The water may then be decanted by inverting the container 2, slicer 10, and pushing means 28 combination, provided that the pushing means 28 contains pores or other areas through which the water may be poured and decanted. The invention provides that the cylindrical design of the container 2, slicer 10, and pushing means 28 of Figures 9 - 11 has been shown to be particularly easy to use and clean, and economical to manufacture.

[037] In accordance with other preferred embodiments of the present invention, methods for cutting produce and minimizing exposure to noxious gasses resulting therefrom are provided. More particularly, the methods of the present invention generally comprise cutting at least one sample of produce into multiple pieces using a cutting means, wherein said pieces are immediately forced and submerged into a liquid. When the produce is cut into pieces and forced into a liquid, the gas that is emitted therefrom immediately diffuses into and is solubilized by the liquid (thereby avoiding the dispersion thereof into the surrounding air and contact with a person's eyes, nasal cavity, etc.). The present invention exploits and makes use of the tendency of a gas, when exposed to a liquid, such as water, to immediately become dissolved in the liquid.

[038] The device and cutting means used to cut at least one sample of produce into multiple pieces, while submerged in a liquid, may be carried out using the devices described herein. Preferably, the liquid used in connection with the methods of the present invention is water. However, those of ordinary skill in art will appreciate that the construction and design of such device may vary, while still allowing produce to be cut into multiple pieces while submerged in a liquid, thereby avoiding the dispersion of noxious and irritating gas into the air.

[039] In certain preferred embodiments, the devices and methods of the present invention are used to cut onions, thereby avoiding and/or reducing the extent to which an operator is exposed to Syn-propanethial-S-oxide (the noxious gas that is emitted by freshly cut onions). Syn-propanethial-S-oxide, a.k.a. ethyl sulfine, is both gaseous at room temperature and water soluble.

[040] The formation of Syn-propanethial-S-oxide peaks at about 30 seconds after mechanical damage to the onion and completes its cycle of chemical evolution over about five minutes. As the gas leaves the onion and begins to mix with the air, it may quickly contact and dissolve in the watery film that covers a person's eyes. This combination produces sulfuric acid, which irritates the nerve-endings found in the cornea, resulting in elevated tear production until such acid is sufficiently diluted and/or removed. The devices and methods described herein cause Syn-propanethial-S-oxide emitted by freshly cut onions to be immediately dispersed into and dissolved within a liquid during a cutting operation.

[041] In other embodiments, the methods of the present invention may be used for cutting other types of produce that emit noxious and/or irritating gasses. For example, the invention may be used to cut garlic, leeks, or pepper, while submerged in a liquid in order to avoid the noxious and/or irritating gas that is emitted therefrom. For example, the devices and methods of the present invention may be used to cut pepper, thereby avoiding and/or reducing the extent to which a person is subjected to the irritating chemicals emitted therefrom, which causes nasal irritation, sneezing, and other undesirable symptoms. More specifically, by using the devices and methods of the present invention, pepper samples may be easily cut while submerged in a liquid, thereby avoiding the dispersion of irritating chemicals into the air (and, therefore, preventing the irritating chemicals from contacting a person's mucous membranes. ,

[042] Similar to the device of the present invention, the methods of the invention may be carried out by filling a container with a liquid, preferably water or any other appropriate solvent. A sample of produce may be cleaned and/or peeled, such as in the case of an onion, under running tap water. Next, the sample of produce is placed within the chamber of a cutting means, such as, but not limited to, the sheer 10 shown in Figure 2, which is placed adjacent to the container. The cutting means preferably includes a cutting member comprising one or more blades, as described above, whereby pushing the sample of produce into and through the cutting member generates a plurality of freshly cut produce pieces. Preferably, when the produce is cut using and/or within the cutting means, the produce is submerged within or in close proximity to the liquid housed within

the container, such that the cut pieces are immediately forced into liquid. As described herein, by cutting the produce while submerged in (or in close proximity to) the liquid, the noxious and irritating gas emitted therefrom is immediately dispersed into and dissolved in the liquid (such as the Syn-propanethial-S-oxide gas emitted by freshly cut onions). Once the cutting procedure has been completed, the liquid (containing the dissolved gas) may be decanted, drained, and/or poured out of the container and disposed of, preferably using a screen or series of pores located within the container, such that the cut produce pieces are left behind.

[043] Similar to the devices of the present invention, the methods of the invention provide that a pushing means, such as, but not limited to, the pushing means 28 shown in Figure 8, may be placed on top of a produce sample, whereby an operator may press or force the pushing means downward and through the cutting members of a cutting means (which cuts the produce into several pieces). Alternatively, the methods of the invention provide that the cutting means itself, which comprises the cutting members, may be applied to and forced through the produce, whereby the produce is cut into a plurality of pieces and immediately displaced into the liquid.

[044] The many aspects and benefits of the invention are apparent from the detailed description, and thus, it is intended for the following claims to cover all such aspects and benefits of the invention which fall within the scope and spirit of the invention. In addition, because numerous modifications and variations will be obvious and readily occur to those skilled in the art, the claims should not be construed to limit the invention

to the exact construction and operation illustrated and described herein. Accordingly, all suitable modifications and equivalents should be understood to fall within the scope of the invention as claimed herein.