Which peeler is effective, safe, and comfortable for young cooks?
Published Nov. 1, 2018. Appears in America's Test Kitchen TV Season 19: Spring Dinner for Company
Kids can use a lot of standard kitchen equipment safely and comfortably, but for certain tasks, they need their own tools to stay safe. Recently, we noticed several peelers designed for children, with special features such as rubber pads and finger grips meant to make the handles easier to grasp and plastic blades intended to prevent accidental nicks. Could we find a peeler that was effective but also safe and easy for kids to use?
We purchased five models, priced from $3.49 to $17.00. Our lineup included three peelers geared toward children, plus our favorite regular peeler from Kuhn Rikon. We also included a “palm peeler” that slides onto the user's middle finger like a ring. Though we weren't very fond of the palm peeler when we tested it for adults, we thought the grip might be easier and safer for kids. The rest of the lineup was a mix of Y-shaped peelers (the blade is perpendicular to the handle) and straight peelers (the blade is an extension of the handle). One had a plastic blade; the rest were metal.
Adult testers used each peeler with a variety of fruits and vegetables, evaluating sharpness, efficiency, and safety. All the models were successful on carrots, which are fairly uniform with thin skin. Peeling rough, bumpy potatoes and removing thick, waxy skin from apples were harder. A few peelers dug jaggedly into the food, leaving behind divots and damage. Sometimes we had to press so hard that the produce slipped from our grip. And the process occasionally felt inefficient and choppy, as we were able to slice off only small pieces of peels at a time and often had to go over the same spot twice. The worst offender, a kids' peeler with a plastic blade, was unable to break through the skin of an apple. We pressed hard when trying to do so and bruised the fruit underneath. The blade was just too dull.
The best peelers had sharp metal blades, which slid along the produce with little friction and gave us good control. These models were also more efficient, removing long swaths of peel—and little of the fruit—with each swipe. Adult testers liked both Y-shaped and straight designs, but the sharper it felt, the higher it rated.
Before we invited the kids into the kitchen, we eliminated two models: the kids' peeler with the plastic blade, which was uncomfortable to grasp and failed our basic peeling tests, and the palm peeler because of safety concerns. Though the opaque plastic shield on the palm peeler kept the blade far from the hand holding the food, it blocked our view, so we couldn't always see where the blade was going. Plus, peels constantly clogged up the blade, which...
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Carolyn is a senior editor for ATK Reviews. She's a French-trained professional baker.