Do You Peel Turnips? A List of 40 Fruits and Vegetables You Can, Cannot Peel, and A Few in Between
To peel or not to peel? That is the question.
With all your ingredients ready for cooking, baking or juicing, it can be frustrating when you soon realize not all fruits and vegetables should be peeled after all. You spend time peeling beautifully every single vegetable and fruit you have, and then you end up with mushed up pieces after cooking.
Sad, isn’t it?
Fruit and vegetable peels are important because they contain essential vitamins and minerals that are otherwise found in the flesh. It’s almost universal that fruit and vegetable peels contain phytochemicals that act as the body’s defense against infection; thus, keeping your immune system high.
However, because of fear of contamination, hardy skins, and difficulty in digesting skins, there is sometimes a need to remove fruit and vegetable peels.
So here then is a comprehensive list of fruits and vegetables you can peel, cannot peel, and a few in the middle that you can peel depending on what you are preparing.
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Do you peel turnips? Depends on what you cook.
Turnips are root vegetables and all of its parts (skin, roots, leaves and stems) are edible. However, you may find it more convenient to eat when each turnip bulb’s roots, leaves and stems are removed. Peeling depends on the dish you’re cooking: if you’re baking them, you don’t have to peel so it’s easier to heat up uniformly; when you have to boil and sauté them, you have to peel so the cooking gets even. It’s always advisable to use a vegetable peeler instead of a knife when peeling turnips.
Do you peel apple? Sometimes!
It’s a given fact that apple peel is good for you: it’s full of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. However, because of the fears of chemical pesticides in widespread use on apple production, many people advise removing the peel for health reasons. But generally, if you trust where your apples are coming from, and you clean them well with fresh running water, you’re safe.
Do you peel celery? Yes!
Celery has always had a reputation of having “zero calories”. While this is untrue (“very low calorie” is the right way to say it) as it also contains carbohydrates, it is rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals. It is also known to help out kidney patients recover. Celery does have these hard strings that can be difficult for the body to digest; so it is necessary that you peel off these strings. The way to do this is to use a knife to perch open the small strings so they can let loose; or a Y-peeler so the strings can be stripped away.
Do you peel apricots? No!
Apricot is a stone fruit that is full of fiber (2 grams), Vitamin A (12%), potassium (6%), and protein (1.4 grams) per 100-gram serving. It’s not at all recommended to peel an apricot’s skin because of the vitamins and minerals found in the skins. Also, the fiber is in the skin itself, so you may want to keep that nutrient.
Do you peel artichokes? Depends on your taste.
Artichoke comes in different varieties and this includes Jerusalem artichoke, Romanesco, Castel and Criolla among others. Because the artichoke’s skin is dry and thick, others want the skin peeled off; however, others want to keep the skin and what they do is to cut the artichoke instead to several pieces. For those who do not want the skin, it’s best to use a sharp knife so as not to extract the artichoke’s juices which are really healthy for the body.
Do you peel asparagus? Depends on the variety.
While an asparagus is edible in its entirety, some people are wary of the chemicals that could have gotten in touch with this vegetable during farming. Thus, for those who want to peel the asparagus’ outer layer, use a vegetable peeler instead of a knife. Asparagus is really thin and you don’t want to be damaging the stalk. A white asparagus is a variety that you should definitely peel off, as its skin can be hard to digest by the body.
Do you peel aubergines? Sometimes!
Aubergine is the other name of a well-known nightshade: eggplant. While the entire fruit is edible, it’s recommended to peel off the skin before cooking. This way, it gets easier for the body to digest aubergines. You should use a vegetable peeler instead of a knife because this fruit’s skin is really thin. Another option is to boil or bake the aubergine, and to scoop out the flesh. This makes the process more straightforward and easier.
Do you peel avocados? Depends on what you are making.
Who does not love avocados? Paired with milk, honey, or eaten alone, this yummy and healthy fruit has always been in demand all around the world. When preparing avocados, to peel or not to peel depends on how you are going to use them: when used in salads, shakes, and juices, you have to peel them; when eaten on its own, you can just cut the fruit into pieces, then eat or scoop out the flesh. Avocado has a really big seed at the middle, so remember to remove the pit! This is not at all edible.
Do you peel beets? Are you making a dish, or a smoothie?
Beets or beetroot is considered one of “The World’s Healthiest Foods.” This is not only a medicinal plant that is used against anemia, thyroid problems and blood sugar fluctuations; it is also used in salads, desserts and meals. While it’s generally not necessary to remove the skins—especially if you want the beetroot pieces to have a really nice plate presentation—you can remove the skins especially if you’re making them into smoothies, shakes and desserts. It’s best to use a sharp knife rather than a vegetable peeler, so as not to mush the beets apart.
Do you peel carrots? For small varieties, no need to peel.
Carrot is a root vegetable so it’s a given that you have to remove each carrot piece’s stems, roots and leaves. There can be soil debris left on carrots, so make sure to wash the carrots thoroughly with fresh running water. Then you can start with peeling. The best way to do this is with a vegetable peeler. However, the need to peel depends on the variety of the carrot. Dutch carrots, these small (and cute!) carrots, need not be peeled as they are soft enough, and can’t withstand high pressures.
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Do you peel celeriac? Yes!
Celeriac is also called celery root, turnip-rooted celery, or knob celery. This vegetable’s skin certainly needs to be peeled off as it is really dry, thick, bumpy, and almost indigestible. Before peeling, cut off the roots, stems and leaves found on each piece. Then with a sharp knife, peel off the skin. Although a vegetable peeler can also be used, it can take more time to peel.
Do you peel corns? No!
When we talk of a corn cob, it is obvious that you have to peel off the corn from the cob. When you get to the corn kernels, just eat them on their own. The flesh is but an outer layer of fiber to hold the carbohydrates and water together, so there is no point of peeling every corn kernel. If you really need them mushed up, put the corn kernels in a food processor, or simply crush using a spoon.
Do you peel cucumbers? If you like the papery skin, then no need.
There are so many varieties of cucumbers such as Lemon, English, and Japanese cucumbers; and generally, cucumbers can be eaten with their skins on. It just really depends on your liking and taste, whether you would want that papery feel in your tongue on every bite; or you’d rather have a smooth taste to your cucumbers. Especially when you make sandwiches, juices and smoothies, it’s best to remove the skin by using a vegetable peeler. Otherwise, when you want cucumbers placed in stews, you should have the skins on so the vegetable doesn’t get mushed up.
Do you peel dates? If you’re used to the skin, you don’t have to.
When you’re not used to eating dates, it can taste quite “weird” chewing on the papery and dull-tasting skin. Others also find these skins difficult to digest. So, if you can’t get yourself to truly enjoy the full dates with skins, peel off the skin with your hands. This is the only way by which you can peel them. If you want to put dates in your smoothie, after peeling off the skin, remove the pit, and place in your blender with other ingredients.
Do you peel dragon fruits? Sometimes!
Dragon fruits offer a high level of antioxidants that it’s even used for neurological treatments to help ease out pains and symptoms. Since dragon fruits can stain hands and clothing, you may want to abstain from peeling them. If you want to eat dragon fruits raw, simply cut lengthwise and enjoy, with the skin acting as your “handle.” If you want to include dragon fruits to smoothies, shakes and juices, cut your dragon fruit into half, then scoop out the flesh with a spoon.
Do you peel fava beans? No way!
Fava beans, also called vicia faba, broad bean, field bean, bell bean, English bean, horse bean, pigeon bean, and tic(k) bean, are rich in protein and used in meals, or eaten on their own as snacks. Fava beans are protected by an outer fibrous shell, which you have to open with your hands to pull out the beans. Never peel fava beans, because they’re very light and sensitive to heavy pressure, so you have to take extra care in handling them.
Do you peel fennels? Depends on the skin.
Fennels belong to the carrot family; and just like carrots, fennels have the roots, leaves and stems on them when bought in the market. Generally, you do not have to peel off fennels; but, the only time you have to do this is when fennels have dry and wilted skin. To peel these off, use a vegetable peeler instead of a knife, so you get to peel evenly. Also, never forget to wash the fennels before and after peeling.
Do you peel figs? It’s impossible to peel, so no.
Figs can be eaten in its entirety: seeds, skin, and flesh included. This is why there is no reason for you to peel figs whether you want to eat them on their own, or as parts of salads, shakes, smoothies, or juices.
Do you peel lemongrasses? Yes!
Lemongrass is popular in Asian cuisines, used as herbs in meals and drinks. Since lemongrass stalks are very stiff, to enjoy it, you have to cut the outgrowth of leaves, roots and stems, and peel the tough skin. The skin usually is dry, too, so it gets easier to peel off. You should use your hands to remove the skin; then, you can use a sharp knife to further remove excess skin. Lemongrass is a generous source of vitamins such as vitamins A and C; and minerals such as folate, folic acid, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus.
Do you peel galangals? If you have a strong digestive system, no need.
You might not be very familiar with galangals, but if you’ve had Thailand’s Tom Yum, Indonesia’s Soto, and/or Vietnam’s Hué cuisine, you sure have had the chance to try galangals. Found in Asian countries, this is a powerful ginger that provides a naturally spicy and tangy taste to your dishes. While it’s not necessary to peel the skin, it would be better to peel it off so you get to avoid instances of the skin being undigested. To peel the skin, use a sharp knife or vegetable peeler. Either device works out.
Do you peel gingers? Depends on what you’re making.
When you want to boil and make into a tea, it’s best not to peel off the ginger. Just clean them, then place in boiling water. This way the flesh retains its structure, flavor and texture. However, if you want to make juices, shakes, smoothies, and sauces out of ginger, peel off the skin with a spoon. Yes, a spoon—not vegetable peeler or knife. You have to remember ginger is sensitive to intense pressures, so you have to be careful in handling it. When we talk of ginger roots though, the question of peeling is simply, a big no. There is no point peeling off ginger roots as their vitamins and minerals are not only found in the flesh, but also captured in the skin.
Do you peel guavas? The skin is full of vitamins, so no!
Guava is a tropical fruit that is packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and even protein. It has less sugar compared to other tropical fruits such as apples, oranges, and grapes. It’s also packed with Vitamin A, which is a proven vitamin to strengthen eyesight. Each 100-gram serving contains a whopping 22% of dietary fiber, 5% protein, and only 3% calories. The vitamins in guavas are found in the flesh, seeds and skin, so there is no reason for you to peel the skin off. Just enjoy on its own, but remember to clean the fruit before eating.
Do you peel jalapeño peppers? If you grill them, no.
Jalapeño peppers originate from Mexico, and score a high 1,000 - 20,000 on the Scoville scale, depending on the variety. These peppers are infamous for their pungent and slightly sour taste combined with the spiciness. So do you need to peel these? The answer is, it depends on what you want to do with them. If roasting jalapeño peppers, it’s best to have them roasted whole so the flavors get stuck in each pepper. However, if you want to make sauces, it’s advisable for you to remove the skins, stem, and seeds. The latter, it’s optional to remove if you want to have a milder spice.
Do you peel jicamas? Absolutely!
Also called the Mexican yam bean or Mexican turnip, jicamas look much like radishes and turnips on the inside, but are much tougher on the outside. It only contains 38 calories per 100-gram serving, with lots of fiber at 4.9 grams. It’s highly advisable to peel off the skin as it’s really thick and dry, and also indigestible, so peeling is the way to go. But, the best thing to do this is with a sharp knife; not a vegetable peeler. The jicama’s skin is so thick and the vegetable peeler is not enough for the job.
Do you peel kiwis? If you’re Kiwi, no need!
The kiwifruit is native in Italy, New Zealand, Chile, Greece and France, and it’s well-known for its unique look and texture. This fruit packs a lot of nutrients in its small frame: 2 grams of fiber, 1.23 grams of protein, 105.4 mg. of Vitamin C, 20 mg. of calcium, and a whopping 316 mg. of potassium. Although the whole kiwi fruit is edible and this is how it is eaten in some countries like in New Zealand, the kiwi’s exterior layer can be hard to swallow and digest by those not accustomed to it. Therefore, you have to remove the peel before eating it, or before using it in salads and other meals. The way to do it is to remove the skin using a spoon—knife and vegetable peeler are not allowed because kiwis are too thin to be handled by these devices. After cutting the 1/8 bit on one end of the kiwi fruit, scoop the flesh out with a spoon. This way you get to preserve the fruit. To have a better idea on how to peel kiwis, check out the step-by-step guide by Instructables.
Do you peel jujubes? Yes!
Jujube is also called by other names: red date, Chinese date, Korean date, and Indian date. As part of the date family, it’s high in carbohydrates (73.6 grams) per 100-gram serving. However, it’s also high in protein at 3.7 grams, and Vitamin C at 13 mg. When eaten on its own, it’s best to eat jujube as it is. However, when you want to put it in salads, smoothies, shakes or juices, the right way to do it is to peel off the skin with your hands so you get the flesh out, and then you discard the seed.
Do you peel leeks? No, the skin is too thin!
Leeks have paper-thin skins so it’s best to enjoy on its own. However, it’s good to remember that this vegetable can be difficult to clean. So, first thing is to make sure you remove the two leafy ends, then to cut up the leek into manageable pieces, then clean with fresh running water. You can fill a bowl with water, put in the leek pieces, then keep on turning the leek pieces until you are satisfied with how you’ve cleaned them. Leeks contain high amounts of vitamins and minerals: fiber, calcium, Vitamin A, potassium, phosphorus and magnesium. These are all good for your immune system, especially with keeping your heart and brain healthy.
Do you peel kohlrabi? You might struggle with digestion, so yes!
Kohlrabi is in the same family as cabbage, and its body, stems and leaves are all edible. It is low in carbohydrates and sugars, and per serving of 100 grams contains 3.6 grams of fiber, 1.7 grams of protein, 350 mg. of potassium, 62 mg. of Vitamin C, and so many other vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron, Vitamin A, phosphorus and folate. Kohlrabi also contains 91 grams of water per serving, which makes you fuller faster. While you can eat this entire vegetable, the skin can be hard to chew so it’s best to remove it. First, remove the stems and leaves. Next, cut it up and remove the tough center. Then, you use a vegetable peeler to remove the skins.
Do you peel mangoes? Sometimes!
Mangoes always provide refreshing tastes especially during the summer. Although its carbohydrate content is high at 15 grams per 100-gram serving, it’s packed with fiber at 1.6 grams, vitamin C at 36.4 mg., calcium at 11 mg., potassium at 168 mg., and with so many other vitamins and minerals. Although the skin is edible, it contains a chemical called urushiol, which can ignite an allergic reaction on others. When used in salads, smoothies, or shakes, it’s best to peel the skin off using a sharp knife, vegetable peeler, or your hands (if the mango is ripe). When eaten on its own, you can also cut the mango into pieces so you can just eat the flesh out.
Do you peel lemons? Yes—but you can use the skins as air freshener, too.
Lemons, like any fruit in the citrus family, are very rich in vitamin C. A single serving of 100 grams contains 2.8 grams of fiber, 26 mg. of calcium, and 53 mg. of vitamin C. It’s amazing this small fruit can contain so much vitamins. Although citrus skins are safe to eat, they are very hard on the stomach and you may run the risk of indigestion if you are not used to eating the skins. It’s therefore recommended to peel the lemon’s skin, with your hands, when you have to put the fruit in smoothies and shakes. If you are using lemon as seasoning, it’s best to cut the fruit into slices, then to squeeze its juice out. But don’t fret, lemon skins can be reused as air freshener, too!
Do you peel mushrooms? With modern-day mushrooms you don’t have to.
The quality of mushrooms these days gives you no reason to peel off mushrooms. If you get your mushrooms from the wild (which is highly unlikely given that many varieties of mushrooms can be deadly), then you have to peel them. Otherwise, the best way to prepare mushrooms is to brush off any visible dirt you see, then cook or blanch them. It’s not a good idea to wash or soak them in water either, as minerals can easily be swept away by running water. Mushrooms are really low in calories, have high protein at 2.5 grams, and potassium at 448 mg.
Do you peel nopal cactus pads? You just HAVE to!
Nopal cactus pads are unique in their own way: a cactus found in dishes? It can be surprising for many, but you will be surprised to find each serving of 100 grams contains manganese (20% of the Daily Value, DV), vitamin C (13% of DV), magnesium (11% of DV), and calcium (14% of DV). And the question if you should peel them, is an absolute yes. To do this, first, you should remove the spikes found on the pads. This you can remove using a vegetable peeler or paring knife. After peeling the spikes off, you should run cold water in the pads, then peel off spikes and other discoloration that you come across.
Do you peel okras? It’s too sticky, slimy and thin, so no!
Okra, also called ladies’ fingers, is a vegetable found in tropical and warm countries. It’s got a slimy fleshy texture that’s why, people who are not used to its taste are quite surprised with the watery texture of the vegetable. Per 100 grams of serving contains 3.1 grams of fiber, 2 grams of protein, 23 mg. of vitamin C, 82 mg. of calcium, and a staggering 299 mg. of potassium. It’s being developed lately as a supplement against cancer, as it’s been proven as an effective treatment for cancer patients. Because the okra’s skin is very thin and fibrous, first, trim the stem ends. Then, “defuzz” the okra, then put under running water. This way the small spiky and fibrous feel on the exteriors can be smoothened out.
Do you peel peaches? If organic, no need!
Peach, also called nectarine, is a flavor-and-nutrient-rich fruit exported the world over from China, Italy, Spain, USA and Greece. Per 100 grams contains 1.5 grams of fiber, essential vitamins, minerals, and even fluoride. Although the peach’s peels are edible and healthy to eat, commercial peaches are said to “be coated as many as nine different pesticides before arriving at the grocery store.” Thus, for health safety purposes, it’s best to peel the skins using your hands. The trick is to boil the peaches first, then to peel off with your hands. If you have organic peaches, then go for it. Eat with peels as much as you want.
Do you peel plums? If bought in a regular grocery, yes!
Just like peaches, plums are at a big risk of contamination these days. So although the skins are edible, it’s best to peel off the skin. Plums are full of antioxidants, vitamin C, and fiber. Its vitamin C content at 6.27 mg. is really high, to think this is just for a single serving of 66 grams. To peel plums, the easiest way to do this is to blanch them quickly, immediately put in an ice water bath, then peel off with a paring knife. This way you get to preserve the flesh.
Do you peel radishes? Sometimes!
Radishes can be chopped or peeled during preparations, and either method works well depending on where you’re going to use the radishes. The main thing is to remove the stems and leaves before washing them. Then, you can eat the radish on its own; or have it included in salads and meals. Radishes are really low in calories at 16 calories per 100 grams. It’s also high in vitamin C at 14.8 mg., and calcium at 25 mg.
Do you peel starfruits? No!
Starfruit, also known as Carambola, is largely found in Southeast and South Asia. It is low in calories at 31 calories per 100-gram serving, high in fiber, vitamin A, potassium and vitamin C. It is safe to eat the fruit with its peels on, so just make sure you clean the fruit well. You can eat it on its own, or you can also cut them (and you’ll be surprised of its star-shaped pieces), to have as snacks or as salad and dessert toppings.
Do you peel squash? Depends on the variety and what you’re cooking.
It’s safe to eat squash flesh and skins; however, the only time you have to peel them is when they have irregularities and bumps on the skin. This is wholly because you may never know if that bump is because of an insect bite, or a random thump caught on during transportation. But just to be safe, it’s best to peel when there’s an irregularity. It also depends on the variety. Smaller varieties like white squash, acorn and delicata should not be peeled because of their soft skins; bigger varieties like butternut and kabocha should be peeled because of the toughness of their skins. Squash is rich in protein, vitamin A, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus. Fat content is also negligible.
Do you peel turmeric? It’s an absolute waste if you peel it!
Turmeric is called a “wonder food” due to the many benefits it can contribute for the body. It has been used for thousands of years in South Asia, particularly in India, for ailments that range from serious ones like cancer, to virus-induced such as cough and colds. It’s best not to peel off the skin from turmeric as the skin also contains antioxidants. But if anything, you should just scrub the skin so it gets evened out.
Do you peel zucchinis? Depends on the zucchini you have.
Zucchinis’ skins should be peeled off when the skin is dry, there’s a bump or irregularity. It also highly depends on the dish you’re making: if you want to grill zucchinis, you should not peel the skin so the vegetable gets to maintain its flavor and texture; if added in smoothies, shakes, or juices, it’s best to remove the skin so as to even out the texture and you don’t clog out your smoothie, shake or juice maker.
What fruits and vegetables you can and cannot peel is a tricky question, so the main point is to know what dish you are preparing, and what variety you have at hand. Do you have other ideas on fruits and vegetables that can and cannot be peeled? What are your suggestions based on your experience?
Feel free to share your thoughts below, I would absolutely love to hear from you! And if you enjoyed this article, feel free to share to your family and friends—on your blog, too, if you have one.