Peeling spuds isn’t difficult, especially when a person gets used to doing it by sheer repetition. A person in the military, peeling hundreds of potatoes when they pull KP duty get quite good at it. Some ways of peeling are easier than others, and one in particular is so simple that it is surprising that more people don’t use it.
There are a huge number of different kinds of potatoes. Some have thin skins, like Yukon Golds. Others have thicker skins, such as russets, which are one of the most popular in the US. The difficulty with peeling them can vary greatly according to the kind of potato. How to peel them, though, doesn’t change much between them. The methods used are often quite similar, regardless of what kind of potato is being prepared.
Potatoes can be skinned using a paring knife. Often, the eyes are cut out, then the skin is removed with the knife and the potato is place in cold, slightly salted water. This is one of the preferred methods out in camp and it is also used at home. A person like Grace Woodley, a fantastic cook who prepared meals for years for the summer crew at Crater Lake National Park, had the knife method down to an art. She could go through 20 pounds of russets in about 10 minutes, all while holding a conversation and without wasting a lot of the spuds in the process.
A lot of people prefer using a potato peeler, though they haven’t been used nearly as long as paring knives have been. A potato peeler has two cutting edges, so a person can get to the point that they are peeling the potato up and back. It isn’t surprising that the military may show preference for this method, especially since the same peeler can be used for carrots. Chief Petty Officer Tim Collins, out of San Diego, was a master at using the peeler. He once said, “My personal record for peeling a 1 pound potato was 18 seconds.”
It may sound like this is a way to cook a potato rather than how to peel it but it is one of the easiest ways to get the job done. It is also simpler than whacking away at the peels.
To do it, heat water in a pot to which a little salt has been added and to a boil. While it is heating, score the potatoes all the way around the middle with a knife, to a point just under the skin. Add these to the water once it is boiling and leave them in the water for three minutes. Remove them from the water and allow them to cool. To peel, simply lightly squeeze the ends. The peel should come off easily. The peels are also great for use in soups and stews, and they can be frozen for later use. The potato isn’t cooked, however, so it can be used in most recipes calling for the tuber.
There are several great methods for removing the skin of a spud and these are three of the best. The last one is perhaps the easiest of all. This is a fantastic time saver, especially for dishes such as potato salad.