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peel before or after cooking

does it make that much difference if you peel things like carrots or potatoes before or after you boil them?

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  1. I always peel mine before because i don't want to handle them while they are hot but lots of people including Cook's Illustrated advocates after at least for potatoes.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Hank Hanover

      Yeah, surprise, Cook's changed their mind on that one, at least for mashed potatoes. They found a new new best better way yet again.

    2. I don't think I've ever seen a cookbook suggesting peeling after boiling.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Harters

        It's fairly common in US books and magazines - I think it started with the perception (true or not) that the most vitamin-rich part of the spud is the peel.

        1. re: buttertart

          Ah...... health reasons.

          Explains why not in cookbooks this side of the Pond. :-0

          1. re: Harters

            Britons never never never shall be slaves.

        2. re: Harters

          Darina Allen recommends it in her cookbooks, and she's Irish. I once did it her way, ouch. But Delia recommends peeling before, not because of taste or health but just because it's easier to peel first. So there we go.

          Funnily enough, the other day I was at a friend's house - he'd invited me for lunch. He had almost no cooking equipment or utensils and wanted to make shepherd's pie. I ended up doing a lot of the cooking work. One thing he didn't have was a peeler. I cut crosses in the potatoes, cooked them and, once cooked through, put them in cold water. They peeled a bit like tomatoes - but not as easily. It worked but I'll keep this method for emergencies.

        3. Either way, the supposed nutrients in the skin are going to be leached into the water. Speaking only of potatoes, I do peel after I boil, because the skin literally slips off, and I feel a bunch better about myself, a. because I'm lazy and hate peeling potatoes, and b. because I left the skins on, even if I know it doesn't make that much difference!

          1 Reply
          1. re: mamachef

            I usually microwave unpeeled potatoes for "boiled" applications, to tell the truth.

          2. Peeling carrots is optional - a scrub will suffice since carrots don't actually HAVE an outer skin.
            The bulk of the chemical fertilizer residue in potatoes is in the skin. I would think it is therefore better to peel before cooking but let's face it, many potatoes are consumed with their skins, and those peeled before boiling lose starch to the water and can become waterlogged.

            1 Reply
            1. re: greygarious

              Good point, greygarious. Myself, I consider that the more fertilizer and preservatives I ingest, why, the more fertile and well-preserved I'll be. :) Not that the fertile part is relevant.

            2. I'm neutral on the carrot question, but peel potatoes in their skins because said skins slip off so nicely once the spud's boiled. If I'm worried about losing nutrition, I'll steam them instead of boiling.

              1. Always eat potatoes unpeeled, my fav part. In a huge covered market in Saint Petersburg,Russia potatoes are sold by the kilo, with the teeny weeny ones almost going for free, and ones the size of a bowling ball the most expensive. The reason is that no Russian would EVER eat an unpeeled potato. Thus the littlest and tenderest are a real pain to peel and the cheapest.

                1. It depends on what I'm using the potatoes for. For mashed, I peel before so I can mash them while they are hot. For potato salad, I usually cook in the skins and then peel because I've always believed, correctly or not, that the skins impart a bit more potato flavor.

                  I peel carrots more for asthetics unless they are very young and tender.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: bear

                    +1 .. except for baked potatoes of course. They're always done with skin on (we fight over the crispy baked potato skins in our house)

                    1. re: bear

                      me, too, on all of the above.

                      I've been stared at here in France for eating the skin of a baked potato...it's not normal here! My mother taught me to love potato skins by slipping a pat of butter into the potato skin that I would leave after eating a baked potato...that slightly crunchy, salty, buttery mix? Yum.

                      I don't eat them wrapped around butter any more, but the peel is still my favourite part -- and I LOVE potatoes.

                      1. re: sunshine842

                        I don't see baked potato skins (the dish with the potato scooped out) anywhere in Continental Europe. When I used to entertain visitor's from France, I would take them to a bar to get dishes like baked potato skins. They were very surprised at how good they are.

                        I mash with skins on, so I guess for me the question is not relevant.

                      2. re: bear

                        Since we use a ricer for mashed potatoes, we never peel the potatoes either before or after they are cooked. We cut them in chunks, put them in the ricer, and then just remove the residual peel before putting in the next chunk. The potatoes are beautifully fluffy, and peeling is a non-issue.

                      3. I've always peeled them before boiling, but the other night I was going to make a smallish potato salad with just three russets, and just for the heck of it I decided to boil them whole and unpeeled. They took a good bit longer than my usual peeled-and-quartered ones, but I was more able to cook them until they were JUST tender all the way through, and instead of my usual floury outer/firm interior they were of uniform firmness/tenderness at every level. Noticeably more flavorful, too.

                        I peeled these while they were much too hot for bare hands by using my favorite magical tools, the heavy rubber gloves. You want the green kinda thick ones, not those soft yellow things; with these, picking up a potato that's just barely cooled is no trick at all.

                        1. Generally, I leave the skin on when boiling.potatoes and carrots. Carrots and waxy potatoes are thin skinned so we generally with the skin too. Boiled starchy potatoes (thicker skins), I peel the skin before eating.

                          1. Only thing I peel after cooking are eggs.

                            6 Replies
                              1. re: John E.

                                Well, ok.

                                Eggs and beef tongue, it is then.

                              2. re: ipsedixit

                                I most always roast beets with the skins on, then peel after they've cooled a bit, especially if i am going to use them for salads later,

                                1. re: TroyTempest

                                  I learned a trick, from Karl S I believe. I peel before cooking. The color doesn't bleed as much that way.

                                  1. re: c oliver

                                    I always peel beets before cooking too - I just don't want to have to deal with the peels while they're hot.