Many people have probably never given much thought to how a vegetable peeler works. But one British man was in for quite the surprise last week when he discovered that he may have been using this routine kitchen tool the wrong way for years.
Tim Smith, a 51-year-old account manager based in the U.K., recently filmed a video of himself peeling carrots. In the video, which he first posted to Facebook, he says, “Oh my God, I just figured out it (the peeler) does this.” Then he proceeds to peel a carrot in one direction and, instead of starting to peel a new sliver from the top, simply works his way back up the carrot in the opposite direction. The peeler glides along seamlessly either way.
Previously, Smith said he had been doing what many home cooks do: Peel veggies in a singular, downwards motion. He, along with hundreds of thousands of people across social media, were stunned.
In the video, Smith, with a befuddled expression on his face, continues to peel the carrot using the new technique. After a few seconds, he stares at the camera in amazement and drops both the peeler and the carrot on the floor.
The short video was soon picked up by British author Giles Paley-Phillips, who shared it with his Twitter followers. The post quickly garnered over 650,000 views and 20,000 likes, plus a slew of comments from awed tweeters.
Many Twitter users were dumbfounded by the simple revelation.
Others were left wondering what other kitchen gadgets they might be using incorrectly.
Still, some people were surprised that others didn’t already know about this peeling hack.
And others stated they don’t want to rock the boat and try a new peeling method.
Whether you’re amazed or simply amused by the viral video, the question remains: Are vegetable peelers meant to peel in both directions or not?
That depends on the peeler.
“Not all peelers peel this way, it depends on the brand and design,” Frank Proto, director of culinary operations at the Institute of Culinary Education, told TODAY Food. “To tell if your peeler can peel in both directions, you’ll need to check the blade — both sides of the blade are sharp, whereas on peelers that only peel in one direction, only one side is sharp.”
The peeling method will also vary depending on what you’re handling. For instance, round produce like potatoes or apples are harder to handle than carrots, which are longer.
“On a round item, you should peel the top and bottom circumference and then peel from top to bottom as you make your way around it,” he said. “You wouldn’t want to do the up and down motion from the video on this type of item, even if your peeler allows, because it may gouge your produce. The method from the video is best for longer produce like carrots, zucchini, eggplant, etc.”
In case you’re nervous about peeling one way versus the other, both peeling methods should be approached with equal amounts of caution.
“Anytime you’re pushing a blade toward yourself and your fingers, it can be dangerous, so one method is not necessarily safer than the other,” Proto said. “You can mitigate that by holding what you’re peeling differently. For a carrot, you want to hold it on one end and peel the bottom half all the way around, then flip and hold the side you’ve already peeled and peel the unpeeled half around. Always make sure to peel away from yourself when doing this.”