"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Skin deep

Everyone knows that the tougher outer layer of our skin is there to protect the blood vessels, nerves, tendons, etc which lie below.

But, have you ever given any thought to the outer skin of your fruit and vegetables?

For far too many years I religiously peeled everything edible that entered my kitchen.  Potatoes were peeled prior to being boiled or roasted.  Carrots were peeled.  Even pumpkins and butternut were peeled.

"Why?" I ask myself now.  Why did I waste all that energy and time - and goodness.

Most of the goodness lies just below the skin, and through peeling the fruit or veggie, what you are doing is allowing the perfectly encapsulated nutrition to be wasted through dissipation in the boiling water, or in the steam being produced by the boiling water.
Clockwise from left:
Whole potatoes boiled in their skin;
using a knife to carefully peel the (hot) boiled potatoes;
use the potatoes for potato dauphinois, or mash, etc.
Did you know that there is absolutely no necessity in peeling potatoes which are destined to be mashed?  All you need to do is wash the skin - using a brush to remove any caked on dirt - leave them whole (preferably) or cut them in half, and toss them into a pot with water.  Once they are cooked all you need to do - carefully - is either peel off the now loose skins, and slice.  Or haul out your potato masher and mash away.  Most of the skins will be trapped by the masher, and can then be removed and added to your compost heap. Whatever is left in your mashed potatoes adds a touch of body :)  Similarly, when roasting whole, halved or sliced roast potatoes let them also retain their skin.

One of the things I love about my Rosie is that I can cook my homegrown butternut and pumpkins whole.  I always harvest the pumpkins when they are about the combined size of 3 large grapefruit.  That is more than enough for RMan and I and normally stretches to two or three meals - pumpkin as a side veg, pumpkin and potato soup, pumpkin fritters, etc.
Clockwise from top left:
cut out the remaining stem and clean out the pips;
place the stem section back to seal the pumpkin;
baked pumpkin with all the retained goodness;
baked whole pumpkin so tender it falls apart
I prepare the pumpkin by carefully cutting a small opening by the stub of the stem, removing the seeds and, after popping the lid back on, all I do is pop it on a roasting tray and into the oven and let it cook until it is ready.

Then it is simply a matter of slicing off a chunk of the pumpkin for the side veggie option.  When the balance of the pumpkin is cool, I scrape the flesh away from the cooked skin, and keep it in the fridge until it is needed for the next meal.

This saves preparation time, and cooking time, because for the next meal reheating / redeploying the pumpkin is quick and easy.

Even carrots.  I know that unpeeled boiled carrots don't look that appetising, but when you glaze them briefly in honey before serving, there is seriously no need to peel them. If you're using them in coleslaw all they need is a good wash / scrub and then a grate - the mayonnaise hides the sometimes unsightly skin.

Other veggie we eat unpeeled are cucumbers, tomatoes, peas - in fact only things with really hard skin - like avocado's, oranges, lemons, banana's - are peeled.  Everything else is left as it came in from the garden :)

RMan now wants me to peel carrots by the way.  That is because the alpaca's love grated carrots, carrot skins and carrot greens.  It is their very best treat :)


Fran said...

Like you, I leave the peel on for most things. Do you also roast the squash seeds - lovely with a little salt, pepper and paprika xxx

Dani said...

Fran - Welcome, and thanks for leaving a comment :)

No, I didn't roast the pumpkin seeds - I gave them to the ducks. But they weren't really interested. Next time I will roast them though :)

John said...

The pumpkin seeds are very good. Watch out for how many you eat. They will "purge" you out if you eat to many.

Dani said...

John - I have eaten roasted pumpkin seeds before and love scattering them in a salad too - for that extra crunch factor. Purge me - never fear, my stomach handles most things... ;)

Vicki said...

I've begun to leave the skins on for canning - particularly potatoes and carrots. Peeling takes time. I have no livestock to feed peels to, nor do I have a garden so no compost pile. What I do have are heavy trash bags full of peels to haul out!! The vegetables may not look as pretty in the jars, but my family will eat them, not admire them.

Dani said...

Vicki - Bwahahahaha - no, vegetables certainly do not need to be admired :) (and very rarely are [nor are necessary] according to RMan)

The Shroom said...

Do you manage to eat all that pumpkin in one sitting? Looks glorious by the way, like pumpkin cake! We eat the pumpkins bit by bit as one White Boer is enough to feed an army ;)

Anyways, fresh home grown vegetables have softer peels than the ones from the store, which makes them easier to chomp along with the rest of the veg! Watermelon rinds and avocado skins are most appreciated by the earthworms especially with little fruit flesh still attached; they hang like curtains off of them :P

Diana Studer said...

Potatoes - that layer JUST under the skin is where all the vitimultimins are. Peeled, you've left yourself with empty calories. Raw potatoes make my skin turn to angry red blisters, so I've never peeled them!

Pumpkin - an Afrikaans neighbour taught me to (peel and) chop pumpkin then freeze it raw in portions.

Dani said...

Shroom - No, it is enough for three meals at least, We've had pumpkin side dish, I;ve made a pumpkin lasagne and finally I'm making a pumkpin and potato soup :)

Oh yes, all those peelings go to my worm bin too :)

Dani said...

Diana - Do other members of the solanacae family affect you too - tomatoes, aubergines, chillies and capsicum - green, orange, yellow and red?

Perhaps when I get a new A+ fridge, with a decent sized freezer, I can also freeze my excess harvest - that's what I'm planning anyway LOL

Harry Flashman said...

We peel potatoes unless we are making French fries out of them. I don't know why, we just always have. Other than that, I don't think we peel our vegetables. I remember hearing a long time ago from somewhere that the skins were good for you.

Kev Alviti said...

Good idea doing a whole squash like that. Sometimes they're so hard I've had to get a saw to them before I cook them. I'll try this in the autumn this year!

Dani said...

Harry - Try not peeling potatoes for mash - the small amount of skin left in the mash adds an "earthiness" - and saves a whole bunch of time and useless effort ;)

Dani said...

Kev - As long as you put a "hole" in the skin, it won't explode whe you cook it whole :)

Quinn said...

I've never peeled potatoes for any type of use, but I recently started peeling carrots after decades of not, because even the organic carrots seemed to quickly acquire a slight bitterness just at the skin. Fortunately, the peels are welcomed by the goats and, when cut up into shorter pieces, by the hens.
I am SO hoping to have lots of winter squash from my garden this year...everything has been slow, but there are now many flowers!

Dani said...

Quinn - Perhaps we need to let the worldwide defence forces know that potato peeling isn't necessary - t'would save the enlisted a lot of PT.

My squash were also slow last year, and I ended up scoring more than enough to see us through to the next harvest and I even had enough to give some away :)