Does It Hack? is a new series where we take common time and energy saving cooking techniques from the internet and challenge whether or not they actually make your life any easier.
Peeling ginger. It’s oddly shaped, knobby and has a tough skin. It’s not very vegetable peeler friendly.
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The Usual Solution
A vegetable peeler or paring knife. These options can and do work, but the peeler isn’t great at skinning in tight spaces and the paring knife can be a bit tedious if not also dangerous. While it would be easier to get at all the skin by cutting it up into chunks first, for most uses you’d want to keep the ginger in one piece for grating and mincing.
The Internet’s Solution
Peel it using the business end of a teaspoon to carve away the ginger’s skin. This is also your grandmother’s solution. The Internet didn’t invent everything, you know. F&W's own Mad Genius Justin Chapple also vouches for this method.
This was a combination timed test and subjective ease-of-use test. I peeled away most of the skin from two very similar hands of ginger (ginger piece are called hands, by the way), being sure to do my best to excavate the little crevices between all of the ginger’s bulbous bits.
Does it Hack?
Oh, yeah. Totally. There’s a reason this “hack” (formerly “trick” and before that “tip” and prior to that “way of doing things”) has persisted and been re-incarnated as a brand new secret by the Internet. To be fair, the peeler I used on this particular hand of ginger actually worked pretty well, but I know I’ve encountered much more complex structures when trying to spice up my chicken soup. So to that end, it’s best to go with the most tried and true method if you’re attempting any ginger peeling, because every hand will present its own pitfalls. Both methods took just about the same amount of time, but the spoon was much more effective.
As far as equipment is concerned, you’ll definitely want a teaspoon with a rigid neck between the handle and the bowl of the spoon (yes, it’s called a “bowl”), so none of your fancy, sterling silver flatware here. The most controlled method is to wrap your index finger around the back of the spoon bowl, hold the spoon handle with your remaining fingers and place your thumb on the ginger itself as leverage. And if you have spoons with bowls that taper to a thinner, thereby slightly sharper, edge at the tip of it, you’re going to have a more precise and effective carving action. Don't shut the silverware drawer just yet — Justin Chapple shows you how to use a fork to make shredding ginger even easier.
So yes, there is an easier way to peel ginger and chances are it’s a way you knew about already, but while a spoon is only slightly superior to the intended tool, it’s still worth leaving the vegetable peeler to the potatoes.