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Vegetable Peelers

Vegetable Peeler

Vegetable Peeler
© Denzil Green

Vegetable Peelers are a kitchen tool designed to remove just the peel (skin) of a vegetable, without sacrificing the layer of the flesh of the vegetable just below the skin. This area of the vegetable is often nutrient-rich.

They are constantly being reinvented. What one you like to work with is very much a personal thing. A Vegetable Peeler that one person will use to whiz merrily through a bag of potatoes in no time flat, without a second thought, another person will throw away in frustration only 2 or 3 strokes into the job.

And as much as you try one out in the store, waving it through the air trying to assess the grip and heft and feel in your hands, you never really know how you'll like working with it until you get it home and actually do.

The handles may be metal or plastic. An oft-repeated tale, though unverified, is that one unnamed company reputedly designed the colours of its plastic handles to blend in with the colours of vegetable peelings. The purpose, the tale goes on to say, is to cause people to more often mistakenly discard the peeler in the garbage with the scraps, necessating the more frequent purchase on new ones.

The blades can be rigid, or swivel. Swivel blades allow the blade to adjust itself to the contoured surfaces of the item being peeled.

Most have a point somewhere in the design that is used for digging out eyes from potatoes, and blemishes from other vegetables.

Most peelers will fit into one of these three general categories:

Half-Moon Shaped Vegetable Peeler

Half-Moon Shaped Vegetable Peeler
© Denzil Green

Half-Moon Shaped Vegetable Peeler

On a half-moon blade type peeler, the peeler end of the handle curls into the shape of a letter C.

The peeler blade is mounted in that half-moon part, running vertical to the handle between the two points of the letter C.

Y-Shaped Vegetable Peeler

Y-Shaped Vegetable Peeler

Y-Shaped Vegetable Peeler
© Denzil Green

A y-shaped peeler has horizontal blades at the top of the Y that swivel.

You drag this blade end horizontally along the vegetable in question, pulling the blade towards you. Or, you can stand the vegetable upright, and start the peeler at the top, putting it down.

The operation and look somewhat resembles a handheld razor.

Sword-Shaped Vegetable Peeler

A sword-shaped peeler has a a swivelling blade contained in a thin metal frame that comes vertically out of the handle.

Sword-Shaped Vegetable Peeler

Sword-Shaped Vegetable Peeler
© Denzil Green

Cheaper ones in North America are sword-shaped, and made of metal, with a handle that is more or less uncomfortable, and a blade that is more or less rigid. Still, they are ubiquitous, and many people prefer them. They have a double blade that is an extension of the handle, and a pointed tip for digging unwanted spots out. In the UK, this model is known as a "Yorkshire" or "Lancashire" peeler, and is still as widely sold as it is in North America. It was reputedly invented sometime in the 1800s by a blacksmith named "Thomas Williams."

You can also get battery-operated ones, and special left-handed ones. Some left-handed people, though, have worked with right-handed ones for so long, that they don't know how to work with a left-handed one, when presented one.

Any peeler, no matter the design, may get clogged with peelings as you work.

Vegetable Peelers can also be used for:
    • shaving cheeses and chocolate. Use long, uninterrupted strokes;
    • peeling fruit such as apples and peels;
    • peeling squashes (if the peeler in question is a more heavy-duty one.)

Vegetable Peelers are really not fine enough, though, to make zest from citrus fruit.


Luffa sponges can also be used to scrub away the peel of delicate vegetables, though it takes longer.

See also:


Asparagus Peelers; Garlic Peeler; Grape Peelers; Vegetable Peelers

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Also called:

Épeluche-Légumes (French); Kartoffelschäler, Schale (die) (German); Pelador (Spanish)


Oulton, Randal. "Vegetable Peelers." CooksInfo.com. Published 13 May 2005; revised 23 May 2009. Web. Accessed 12/14/2017. <http://www.cooksinfo.com/vegetable-peelers>.

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