Potato peelers are far from the newest kitchen gadget on the market. Potato peelers have been around since the late 1800s. It is interesting to know how an appliance so simple can make a world of difference in the kitchen. A potato peeler is made with a metal blade attached to a plastic, wooden or steel (more common today is a stainless steel) handle. A potato peeler is used to peel the skin of potatoes, other vegetables or fruits. Potato peelers come in three main designs: the Lancashire, Australian and the Y-peeler.
The potato peeler is a manual appliance, meaning the hand must manually operate the potato peeler. The Lancashire potato peeler is made like a knife. The blade of the potato peeler is attached to the handle in same way a knife blade would be attached. The Lancashire is held in your right hand (assuming you are right-handed) while the left hand holds the top of the vegetable. The vegetable is peeled in a turning motion by running the potato peeler over the top of the vegetable with your right hand.
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The Y-peeler resembles a razor. It is made in the shape of a Y, hence the name Y-peeler. The blade of this peeler is made perpendicular to the handle. The vegetable skin is peeled in strips in a parallel motion to the handle. There is an eye gauge attached to Y-peelers to remove the eyes of potatoes. The handle cannot face away from the user. Use the Y-peeler with a drawing motion--not pushing the blade down into the vegetable but simply drawing the blade back toward you.
The Australian potato peeler was made in 1947. The official name is the Dalson Aussie Peeler. It is used mainly in Australia. The handle points upward. The blade is between the base and tip of the handle, and the vegetable is peeled in rotating position. The vegetable should rotate against the blade and not the blade against the vegetable.
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