One of the most under appreciated items in the kitchen is the vegetable peeler! Which to me is one of the most useful tools in the kitchen. For example, whenever I pack out tools to take with me when I work in a professional kitchen or to cater an event, the list of mandatory tools goes like this: chef knife, sharpening steel, and peeler. Cutting and peeling is almost always mandatory to successful meal preparation. So, I’d like to talk about peelers for a little while, and shed some light on a kitchen tool that deserves its own spotlight.
As you can see from the picture above, there are a lot of different types of peelers, and discounting specialty peelers you can find in some kitchen gadget stores, these are the only peelers you will need. The most commonly seen and used peeler is the straight, or blade, peeler. That’s most likely the one you used as a kid to begrudgingly peel potatoes Thanksgiving morning to help prepare for the feast to come. There are some good features to this peeler like the fact there is a pointy side to gouge out the eyes of potatoes, or get out any recessed spot the peeler won’t reach. Also, they’re fairly easy to clean. The downside of this type of peeler is that it is usually awkward to hold the peeler and quickly peel your way through a lot of food, especially if the food in question is round and/or slippery like a potato or an apple. This makes this peeler somewhat slow and cumbersome to use, and since the whole point is to make the cooking process as easy and fun as possible, I tend to avoid these peelers.
Now, the other common style of peeler, on the other hand, is my personal favorite and always my go to peeler. Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to the “Y” shaped peeler! This peeler shape offers more versatility, and is much more comfortable to hold and handle. The “Y’ shaped design allows you to approach the food from more angles and gives you much more control. That is not to say that there aren’t flaws to this style of peeler. The main flaw is that there a lot of different styles in this category, and it can be confusing to know which one works the best…and believe me, they all handle much differently depending on length, width, and the material used. But, don’t worry! I have put in the hours and done the research to find out which is superior. Do you want to know? I don’t want to leave you in suspense, so I’ll just tell you…its the white one (see above picture)! The longer peelers work well enough, but they make it too awkward to hold you peeling hand close enough to the food, which is important for speed and accuracy sake. Now, if you again refer back to the picture, the metal frame peeler looks similar, but due to the hollow frame and angle of the blade makes it the worst peeler out of all of them. Which is surprising considering that that particular peeler costs over three times as much as the others. Nope, the simple white peeler is the best, and is the cheapest…and to make the deal even sweeter, usually comes in a three pack. You can find all these peelers online, and in most cases at your local kitchen or home supply store.
There are other more seldom used tools that are technically peelers, though have different functions. Take the channel peeler, for instance (pictured above sitting on top of the potatoes). The purpose of the channel peeler is to carve out “V” shaped channels in foods in order to cut 90 degrees to said channel, and in doing so, make pretty patterns. Now, is this a necessity for your kitchen..no, but it can be used to make your fruits and veggies a little more eye catching. Also, pictured on the lemon is a zest peeler. This peeler has small sharp circles that will peel off the zest or skin of a fruit or vegetable into very thin shreds. Although, I usually use a microplane grater for this function, the zest peeler is especially good at making shreds of harder vegetables that I like to use as a garnish.
So, I know what you’re thinking. That was over complicating something that is easy. Well, Peelers can be used for more than just peeling, it just takes a little creativity. For instance, my favorite salad involves peeling an entire carrot into ribbons, and tossing it with lemon juice, salt, black pepper, and olive oil. Or if you wanted to do something even more hearty, peel a zucchini into ribbons and blanche for a few seconds into boiling water and toss with pesto and parmesan cheese to make a vegetarian and gluten free fettuccini.
So, there are a lot of amazing things you…yes, you!…can do right at home with a little know how and the right peeler. I hope I have convinced you to take a little closer look as one of the most versatile, useful, and inexpensive tools in your kitchen.