Some vegetable groups are nutrition powerhouses but are not very easy to clean, peel, cut and prep. These can be ridge gourds or turai, bitter gourds or karela, sweet potatoes or shakarkandi, pumpkin and yam or ratalu.
The ‘ridges’ in ridge gourds make it difficult to peel them. Sweet potatoes are often twisted into weird shapes. Pumpkin peel is quite thick and is divided into clearly-marked sections that make peeling them quite a task. Yam skin is rough. Bitter gourd peels contains tiny spikes and you may find your usual vegetable peeler inadequate for the task.
To make your life easier, here are some tips to peel twisted vegetables.
You can forgo the chopping board if you prefer to hold the vegetables in hand when peeling them. This may be good enough for small vegetables but for peeling vegetables like yam or pumpkin, a chopping board can come in handy.
A word about vegetable peelers
While many types of vegetable peelers are now available in the market, for some twisted vegetables or veggies with ridges or spikes, it is better to use your standard chopping knife.
It is easy to remove the skin from most of these difficult-to-peel vegetables using only a knife.
-Cut the top and bottom parts.
-Divide the gourd into 2-3 sections with horizontal cuts to make it easier to peel them.
-Remove the ridges from each section with a knife.
-Use the knife to gently scrub away the skin from the gourds if you prefer your vegetable with a bit of peel. If not, use a peeler to remove rest of the skin.
-Chop as you wish as per your cooking needs. Make a simple curry, roast them or steam them with spices.
Note – It is the ridges that make it really difficult to peel a ridge gourd. Using a standard peeler over the ridges is not very effective.
-Use the knife to scrub away the tiny spikes and ridges from the vegetable peel.
-When done, use the same knife to remove the rest of the peel in thin stripes. Or alternatively, use a peeler to clean the vegetable.
-Chop as needed.
-Do away with the top and bottom parts. If the root is long, horizontally cut it into two sections.
-If the root contains too many twists, cut just above each to get neat little structures.
-Use the knife to remove the skin from each section.
-If you don’t need to use them raw, you can forgo the peeling process and boil the sweet potatoes first. Once done, cool them and remove the peels using just your hand or with a knife for quicker results.
-Chop or cook as needed.
Note – It is the twisty shape of the tuber that makes its peeling difficult. When you divide them into sections under each twist, the peeling process becomes very easy.
-Cut the pumpkin into several sections. If the pumpkin piece is large, first cut them into separate pieces using the vegetable’s natural sections. Then further divide them into thin sections.
-Once done, use a really sharp knife to remove the peel from each section. You might not be able to remove the peel in one smooth stroke due to its hardness. Keep removing it using small strokes while taking care to not waste too much of the vegetable.
-Also remove the top pulpy portion and any seed from each section.
Note – Be careful when removing the pumpkin peel as the knife can get stuck in the hard outer portion.
-If the tubers are long in shape, remove the top and bottom ends and cut them into 2-3 horizontal sections.
-If the yam is round in shape, divide it into sectionals.
-Now, take a very sturdy knife (preferably with a wooden handle) and cut the peel away.
With the right techniques and tools, it is very easy to peel any vegetable – even the twisty and spiky ones. Always use a sharp knife and choose its size based on the vegetable.