Peeling vegetables and fruits is a food preparation task that can be time-consuming— especially when you’re a novice. However, a peeler is an essential tool for every kitchen that can make all the difference.
Although it may appear simple and effective, most homecooks don’t realise that there are specific ways you must use peelers to reap the benefits, including preserving the hidden nutrients found underneath the skin of many fruits and vegetables.
How to use a peeler safely
A peeler, due to its nature, is a sharp prepping tool so it’s important to use precaution at all times. If used incorrectly or you happen to slip, you can skin off fingers or knuckles and end up with some pretty nasty cuts. Safe to say, safety is key!
To start you off, let’s go through some safety points to remember when using a vegetable or fruit peeler:
- Always wash your veg or fruit very well before peeling. Washing will reduce the dirt and bacteria that may be present on fresh produce. Do not wash after peeling as this can wash away vitamins and minerals.
- Use a sturdy chopping board to prevent your ingredients from slipping. Plus, you can discard the peelings easily once done!
- Use both hands to keep your fingers safe from the blade. Hold one end of the vegetable or fruit in one hand, or hold it in position on the chopping board, and the peeler in your other.
What vegetables and fruits should you not peel?
Some fruit and veg holds a lot of nutrients in the skin, so let’s run through some of the ones you can put the peeler down for.
- Cucumbers: Nearly all of the fibre, vitamins and minerals found in cucumbers comes from yep, you guessed it, the skin. Without the peel, you’re pretty much just drinking water (cucumbers are made of 96% water!)
- Pears and Apples: The nutritional value of the peel of both the fruits is too great to strip away. Like all fruits, both peels offer a variety of minerals and vitamins, including a large portion of their fiber. Be sure to wash your apples particularly well, or buy organic, as they are a higher pesticide fruit.
- Tomatoes: Although the skin of tomatoes can appear heavy to some, it’s best to keep these on. Their skin is extremely rich in phytochemicals that are important for our bodies.
- Kiwis: That’s right - kiwis! Given the fact that a large chunk of people are unaware that the skin is in fact edible, it’s high in fibre, antioxidants, and folate. Be warned: the texture will take some getting used to!
Other vegetables and fruits that benefit from keeping the skin on, include aubergines, peaches, and courgettes.
How to Peel Carrots
- With your vegetable peeler in one hand, start by holding the carrots by its top (also known as the “fat end”), with its tip resting downwards at an angle on your chopping board.
- Start the peeling movement in the middle of the carrot and press downwards towards the chopping board.
- Once you peel down, peel up (only to the middle). Most of the time, people only use one of the blades of a peeler. But take a close look at both swivel peelers and Y-shaped peelers and you’ll see they have two blades. This layout means you can go back and forth, cutting your peeling time in half.
- Rotate as necessary until the end furthest from you is sufficiently peeled.
- Now, simply flip the carrot so that you’re holding onto the peeled end and repeat the process as before.
How to remove the peel of a pineapple
The safest and easiest way to peel a pineapple doesn’t require a peeler. Instead, you can use a sharp kitchen knife. A Chef’s knife is your best bet.
- Grab your knife and cut off the top and bottom of the pineapple.
- Stand the pineapple up and slice it right down the middle.
- Before moving forward, it’s often advised to remove the core of the pineapple that runs right down the middle as it’s tough to eat. Take one half of the pineapple and place the edge of the knife and line it up with the edge of the core. Slice down and inwards, and repeat the process on the other half. Remove the core from here.
- Slice each of the pineapple halves in half again, and take each quarter and slice down to the skin (without cutting it) repeatedly to make around 1cm pieces.
- From here, take the edge of your knife and gently glide it between the flesh and skin of the pineapple. Slide the pieces off and discard the freshly removed peel!
How to peel potatoes
A Wide Peeler can make light work of removing potato skins.
- Simply hold the potato in your hand as you would your mobile phone. With your peeler in your other hand, start peeling from the base, gliding the peeler away from you.
- Rotate the potato around to continue with the peeling process. You may not reach the top and bottom of the potato’s skin but don’t worry, we’ll see to this in the next step! Be careful not to let the potato slip out of your hand as they can be notoriously slithery.
- Once done, maneuver the peeler around the top and bottom of the potato, going over any pieces the first steps were unable to peel. You might find it easier to switch to a smaller swivel peeler for this.
How to peel a butternut squash
Being notoriously thick and hard to peel, we recommend softening the skin of your butternut squash before attempting to peel.
- Slice off both ends of the butternut squash using a Santoku or Chef’s knife and safely prick it all over with your fork. This will allow steam to escape as it softens for a minute or two in the microwave.
- Either allow the squash to cool, or, if you’re in a rush, grab your hand towel to handle it.
- You may find that the peel simply falls off with very little pressure. If it requires a little extra effort, grab your peeler and simply slice down the length of the squash until all is removed.
- Once peeled, cut and cook it any way you like!
Become a peeling pro
Having the right tools can help make peeling fruits and vegetables a quick and enjoyable process. Whether you’re a regular at making fruit salads or just want to get the best roast potatoes possible, why not consider investing in a comprehensive set of peelers and a high-quality knife collection?
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