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PROBLEM: When I peel vegetables (carrots, potatoes, butternut squash), I scrape or cut myself with the peeler (SEE BELOW FOR DETAILS).

QUESTION: How to hold and rotate the item so as to peel it safely (no scrapes) and securely (no slipping)?

DETAILS: 1--As I scrape forward or backward, the peeler catches the knuckles or pads of the fingers holding the veg.

2--As the veg gets thinner with peeling, it's hard to rotate it & scraping my fingers is more frequent.

3--When peeling a round or irregularly shaped item, I cannot always grip it tightly in my hand OR it slips while peeling on the countertop.

Thank you very much for your help!

Gary

  • What kind of knife or peeler are you using? – Willeke Apr 17 at 14:23
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    And is it reasonably sharp? Btw., it’s perfectly ok to ask for a how-to in the sense of a hack here, but did you know that there’s a Cooking SE („Seasoned Advice“) for when you need just instructions in the future that would be outside this site’s scope? – Stephie Apr 17 at 16:33
  • A "Y" peeler, sharp. And thanks for the info about Cooking SE. I'll check it out. – Gary Ellis Apr 17 at 21:50
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First rule against slipping: Don’t work with too wet (= slippery) produce. A kitchen towel is quite helpful here. Second rule for everything that involves cutting: Make sure that your blade is sharp. It sounds frightening, but a sharp blade is actually safer to work with, because you need less force to use it and it’s way less likely to slip and become an uncontrolled danger. If you are dealing with a crappy blunt peeler, invest a few dollars/Euro/whatever currency and get a new one. Don’t buy the cheapest you can find, but there’s also no need to go bankrupt for a vegetable peeler (knives, otoh - but I digress).

  1. For long thin vegetables (e.g. carrots), it can be helpful to peel just about two thirds of the length in one go. Then turn it upside down and peel the rest.

    • The technique I taught to my then-kindergarteners was to lay in flat on the chopping board, hold tight with the non-dominant hand. Starting from slightly left of the middle (assuming a right-handed user) and peel with a straight, smooth outward movement. Turn along the long axis a bit, repeat until the first half is done. Now flip the veggie over, hold at the peeled side, peel the second half. Do not attempt to peel the top and bottom, they get cut off at the very end. I would recommend the kind of peeler with the crosswise blade, it fits the movement more comfortably in my opinion.

    • If you have the first technique down pat, you can try the freehand methods. Slightly cup your hand lengthwise and place the e.g. carrot as an extension of your forearm. You don’t “grab” around the vegetable, use the friction along the fingers and palm to hold it. Peel from the fingertip side towards you. Your fingertips should be out of harms way if your hold is good. If you still nick yourself, do the lower-half-upper-half method again. My personal favorite here is a peeler with a lengthwise blade, but again, it’s just a preference.

  2. For irregular round(-ish) foods (apples, potatoes...) you can use the same methods described above, but holding them in your cupped hand is often easier, as they are “wobbly” on the board.

  3. Hard vegetables like butternut squash are a challenge for all cooks. This is where most of us will look into cooking methods where you only halve or quarter the fruit, cook or roast it and only then scoop out the now soft flesh.

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  • Thank you very much. The long end/short end is a good idea, as is holding the veg down on the cutting board. Cutting apples and potatoes is a lot tougher, I thin, because they are usually not very long and the strokes are frustratingly short. With butternut squash, I could see cutting of the top/tail and then using vertical strokes to peel. Alternatively, I could hold it down on the board. I would like to see a contraption, some kind of raised board where different veg could be secured for peeling. – Gary Ellis Apr 17 at 21:53
  • @GaryEllis It is much easier to learn the hand held method unless you are limited in your movements. There is a kind of board/dish with pins sticking up to hold big roasts, you could imitate that with nails through a board, but make sure your nails are food safe. – Willeke Apr 18 at 13:15
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I use chefs' cut resistant gloves whenever I use a peeler or grater or mandoline, though I put the glove on a different hand, depending upon which device I'm using. These gloves probably wouldn't protect you if you stabbed yourself, but they are good enough to protect against the specific issues you mention in your question.

Get a couple of pairs, so that you can throw them in the washing machine when you're done.

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Try using Scrub Daddy. It’s like a sponge but if you put it in cold water is has a scratchy texture. Rub the vegetable with it and it should take the outer peel off.

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In addition to Stephie’s excellent tips, you can also try copying what commercial peeling systems do: use something to separate the item from the hand.

One way to do this is to hold the item firmly to the cutting board with a fork. This way, the peeler can never make contact with the hand that’s holding the carrot or potato etc.

It is important that the whole setup is stable, all the way from hand to fork to carrot. I’ve learned the hard way that when things slip, we become prone to accidents.

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