To peel, or not to peel? That is the question of many a home cook.
You know how it goes: that recipe you saved looks so simple, so quick, and then you notice that sneaky extra step: “wash and peel the potatoes” and you think “uhhh… I’ve got better things to do with my time than peel potatoes!”
I hear you, loud and clear. I’m a lazy cook and if I can avoid peeling veggies, I certainly will. Besides, there are good reasons to keep the skins on:
1. Peels are full of nutrients
Typically, the skin of a vegetable or fruit contains a much higher concentration of fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals than its flesh. Most vegetables and fruits have completely edible peels (although you’ll want to give them a good wash if they’re not organic). They might be a little more tricky to eat than the inner flesh, but that’s part of the fun! By eating the peel, you’re getting a nice nutritional bonus. Some peels are less edible straight-up, either because they’re too tough (like watermelon rind) or too strong-tasting (like lemon rind), but the internet is full of creative ways to use them – scroll down for some ideas.
2. Waste not
Globally, food loss and food waste contribute 8% of total human-made greenhouse gas emissions – every reduction can help bring this number down, and reduce municipal resources in processing waste. Think about all the waste that you could divert by using all your fruit and veg peels!
3. Save time by skipping the peeling
This is definitely the number one motivator for me: why should I spend an extra 30 minutes peeling those darn potatoes, when I can just leave the skins on and get even more nutrition than otherwise? It’s a no-brainer. Scroll down to see which fruit and veg you don’t need to peel at all.
4. Challenge yourself to get creative
It’s nice to broaden your horizons and learn new things, right? Challenge yourself to a one-month keep-the-peel habit, and use that time to find new ways to use up the peels that would otherwise end up as waste. A well-defined and time-bound challenge is a great way to make new discoveries 🙂
5. Save money by using what you have
Keeping the peels is another small way to save some money: you might find yourself going through your groceries a bit more slowly as you fill up on fibre, and if you’re using peels for cleaning purposes, for example, you’ll end up spending less on store-bought cleaning products.
Ready to hold off on peeling your veg? Here are some ideas for a) what you definitely don’t need to peel; b) what you can reconsider with a little step further out of your comfort zone; and c) some creative ideas for peels that aren’t straight-up edible.
Leave these skins on…
Don’t bother peeling the skins off these fruits and vegetables. The taste and texture will be minimally different, and the nutritional benefits, time-saving and reduced waste are definitely worth it:
Try eating these skins…
These ones are the ones I’m used to peeling before eating, but I’m going to make a conscious effort to eat the skins – they’re a little more tough, but totally edible and packed with good stuff:
- Kiwis: The skin is a little furry, so it’s something to get used to, but give it a bash – the skin has more vitamin C than the flesh!
- Pumpkin and butternut squash: Depending on the squash variety, the skin should get soft enough when cooking to eat it along with the flesh. Otherwise, peel the skin and roast it with spices to make pumpkin crisps.
- Mangoes: Bite into a ripe mango like you would an apple; or put chunks of mango (skin intact) in a blender for a smoothie; or use unripe mangoes, with the skin, to make a mango pickle.
- Papaya: If the fruit is nicely ripe, the skin will be soft enough to eat along with the flesh.
- Avocados: Soft-skinned avocados have thin, edible skins – eat them like you’d eat an apple. The harder-skinned varieties aren’t so chomp-friendly though: scoop the flesh and skip the skins.
Some creative ideas for less-edible peels…
Here are some ideas for what you can do with peels that are a bit too tough to eat along with the flesh:
- Citrus: Zest your citrus rinds for a delicious addition to desserts (store in the freezer); or steep the rinds in vinegar for a delicious-smelling household cleaner; or dry out your orange peels to make a citrussy tea (just add hot water).
- Watermelon: Make candy or a curry with your leftover watermelon rind.
- Banana: Use ripe banana skins to make a meat alternative (I’m not kidding – but I’ve yet to try it!). Apparently, banana skins are pretty good for skincare (also something I haven’t tried).
- Onion & garlic: Keep the skins and cook them up with other veggie scraps to make a stock.
- Pineapple: Boil the skins to make a pineapple tea!
Inspired? Me too!