A peeler, which may also be referred to as a vegetable or potato peeler, is a kitchen utensil designed to peel the skin away from vegetables. Though these tools are most commonly used to peel potatoes, they can also be used to peel carrots, apples, eggplants or any other solid fruit or vegetable with a skin.
When looking for a peeler, you should first consider the material used to create the blade and handle. Most blades are made of metal or ceramic, the handle may be made of plastic, metal, or wood. Peelers made out of sheets of metal, while generally inexpensive, is generally too uncomfortable especially with longer peeling sessions. Those with wooden handles are probably the least common and generally less appealing because the porous nature of wood makes it a good home for bacteria. Plastic peelers are often the best option. This is particularly true for those with arthritis, as it is much easier to find a plastic version that can be held easily and comfortably than a wood or metal one.
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The design of the tool is also something you should consider. A Lancashire peeler is designed with the blade extending from the handle. In order to use it, you must hold the fruit or vegetable with one hand as you peel with the other. You generally move the blade toward you as you dig it into the fruit or vegetable.
The Y-peeler is another option. This looks similar to a manual razor for the face and is used in a similar manner. Unlike the Lancashire peeler, the Y-peeler is pushed away from the body as it is rubbed across the fruit or vegetable.
The third peeler design has no real name, but is commonly used in Australia. It consists of a plastic handle that supports the bottom and the top of a blade that is capable of partially rotating, and can cut the skin off quickly and at a constant depth. In addition, the cutting edges are on the inside of the blade, which makes it less likely for you to accidentally cut yourself.
Other considerations include a serrated versus straight edged blades. Some peelers even have an associated element which makes it easy to clean out the eyes of potatoes.
The design you select is largely dependent upon your personal preference. If at all possible, handle each type in the store before making a purchase in order to help you decide which fits most comfortably in your hand. Since you will likely peel several fruits or vegetables at a time, the comfort is important.