The Hospitality Guru (cooking) Back to Basics: Peeling & Trimming Vegetables

After the vegetables have been washed and cleaned thoroughly, many need to be peeled and trimmed. A peeler, a chef’s knife or a paring knife may be used to remove skin, root ends and blemishes.

Peelings are the outside skins, tops and tails from fruit and vegetables. They usually have no culinary use and can be discarded.

Vegetables should be peeled or scraped thinly to remove only the skin as most nutrients lie just below the skin. Thin peeling also minimises wastage.

Trimmings are the edible good quality off-cuts from fruit and vegetable preparation. They should be saved for use in stocks, sauces, mirepoix and puree.

The flesh of some vegetables turns brown when exposed to air. To prevent this happening the following procedures are recommended:

  • Cover peeled potatoes in cold water until they are ready for use.
  • Jerusalem artichokes and eggplants can be placed in a mixture of cold eater and an acid, usually lemon juice or vinegar. For small quantities, the acid may be sprinkled directly onto the vegetables.

The peels of some vegetables like zucchini and squash are edible and therefore the vegetables do not need peeling. Just wash them thoroughly.

METHOD
DESCRIPTION
USES
Slice
A relatively thin, broad piece of food cut by a sawing action.
Slicing bread and onion rings.
Chop
Cut into uneven bits by using short, sharp blows. May be fine, medium or coarse.
Chopping parsley and Duxelles.
Dice
Cut into even cubes. May be small, medium or large.
Dicing macedoine and brunoise.
Shred
Cut into very fine irregular strips
Shredding lettuce, and cabbage for coleslaw.
Crush
To squash into fine, medium or coarse particles using the side of a knife blade.
Crushing garlic.

For chopping and dicing the tip of the knife is usually kept on the cutting board while the blade is raised and lowered rapidly with a forward up and down movement. The cutting is done on the forward stroke. Never lift the tip of the knife off the cutting board.

For slicing and shredding the blade of the knife is passed across the item being cut with a smooth forward motion. Again the cutting is done on the forward stroke. For both cutting methods, the free hand is used to push the food towards the blade and/or to regulate the size of the cut.

REMEMBER

  • The purpose of washing and cleaning is to remove dirt, sand, insects, insecticides and other chemicals from the skin or leaves of vegetables and fruit.
  • Pay special attention to washing leeks and celery.
  • Vegetables should be peeled thinly to preserve nutrients and minimise wastage.
  • Trimmings should be saved for stock, soup and puree preparation.
  • Potatoes should be kept in cold water after peeling to prevent them turning brown. Add an acid to the water for Jerusalem artichokes and eggplant.
  • Slicing, chopping, dicing, shredding and crushing are the common types of cuts used in basic preparation.

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