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November/December 2018

Fruit/Vegetable Peelers for Kids

Which peeler is effective, safe, and comfortable for young cooks?

How We Tested

Kids can use a lot of standard kitchen equipment safely and comfortably, but for certain tasks, they need their own tools to stay safe. Recently, we noticed several peelers designed for children, with special features such as rubber pads and finger grips meant to make the handles easier to grasp and plastic blades intended to prevent accidental nicks. Could we find a peeler that was effective but also safe and easy for kids to use?

We purchased five models, priced from $3.49 to $17.00. Our lineup included three peelers geared toward children, plus our favorite regular peeler from Kuhn Rikon. We also included a “palm peeler” that slides onto the user's middle finger like a ring. Though we weren't very fond of the palm peeler when we tested it for adults, we thought the grip might be easier and safer for kids. The rest of the lineup was a mix of Y-shaped peelers (the blade is perpendicular to the handle) and straight peelers (the blade is an extension of the handle). One had a plastic blade; the rest were metal.

The Sharper, the Better

Adult testers used each peeler with a variety of fruits and vegetables, evaluating sharpness, efficiency, and safety. All the models were successful on carrots, which are fairly uniform with thin skin. Peeling rough, bumpy potatoes and removing thick, waxy skin from apples were harder. A few peelers dug jaggedly into the food, leaving behind divots and damage. Sometimes we had to press so hard that the produce slipped from our grip. And the process occasionally felt inefficient and choppy, as we were able to slice off only small pieces of peels at a time and often had to go over the same spot twice. The worst offender, a kids' peeler with a plastic blade, was unable to break through the skin of an apple. We pressed hard when trying to do so and bruised the fruit underneath. The blade was just too dull.

The best peelers had sharp metal blades, which slid along the produce with little friction and gave us good control. These models were also more efficient, removing long swaths of peel—and little of the fruit—with each swipe. Adult testers liked both Y-shaped and straight designs, but the sharper it felt, the higher it rated.

Narrowing Down the Lineup

Before we invited the kids into the kitchen, we eliminated two models: the kids' peeler with the plastic blade, which was uncomfortable to grasp and failed our basic peeling tests, and the palm peeler because of safety concerns. Though the opaque plastic shield on the palm peeler kept the blade far from the hand holding the food, it blocked our view, so we couldn't always see where the blade was going. Plus, peels constantly clogged up the blade, which slowed us down. We were left with three promising contenders, and we were ready to bring in the kids.

Our Favorite Kids' Peelers: Kuhn Rikon Original Swiss Peeler and Le Petit Chef Peeler by Opinel

We asked a panel of six children, ages 9 to 12, to test the top three models, one straight and two Y-shaped. They used them to peel potatoes, carrots, and apples, giving us feedback throughout. Like us adults, the kids preferred the sharpest blades because they made the job of peeling easy and smooth, even on tough bumpy potatoes and slippery round apples. The straight peeler wasn't quite as sharp as the other models. Children complained that it felt duller and removed only tiny bits of peel with each swipe, which made it inefficient and a pain to use. Ultimately, the sharper blades on the other models pushed them into the lead.

In addition to sharpness, the comfort and design of the handles were important to our kid testers. Both of the Y-shaped models had thinner handles with rounded edges that made them comfortable for the kids to grasp. Between these two models, individual preferences came down to the child's age and cooking experience. Most of the older children gave the highest scores to our winning regular peeler, the Kuhn Rikon Original Swiss Peeler ($6.24), which they said was “easy” to use. Our younger testers preferred the Le Petit Chef Peeler by Opinel ($17.00), thanks in part to the ring that sits between the blade and handle, where they can rest their index fingers. One kid tester said that it provided “a better grip, which meant more control.” Depending on age and experience, we think either of these vegetable peelers are great options for young cooks.

Methodology

We tested five peelers, three of which were marketed explicitly to children, priced from $3.49 to $17.00. Before giving the peelers to kids to test, adult testers evaluated each model's sharpness, efficiency, and safety by peeling potatoes, carrots, and apples. Two peelers were eliminated after this stage due to either performance issues or safety concerns. Six children, ages 9 to 12, used the remaining three models to peel potatoes, carrots, and apples. The kids ranked the peelers and provided feedback on the features they liked and disliked. Information on the peelers' blade materials and intended age ranges was collected from manufacturers. Prices were paid online. Products appear below in order of preference.

RATING CRITERIA

Performance: Products rated highest if they were sharp and efficient, peeling produce smoothly and with limited resistance. We docked points from peelers that struggled to cut into produce to begin peeling, got stuck often, or required more swipes to peel an area.

Safety: We evaluated how safe adults and children reported feeling while using each peeler. Models that provided a comfortable grip and good control rated highest. We also preferred peelers that allowed us a clear view of the blade and the produce underneath.

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The Results

Winner
Recommended

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

$33.31*

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Winner
Recommended

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

$33.31*

Lodge Classic Cast Iron Skillet, 12"

Our old winner arrived with the slickest preseasoned interior and only got better. Broad enough to cook two big steaks, it browned foods deeply, and its thorough seasoning ensured that our acidic pan sauce picked up no off-flavors. Though its handle is short, the pan has a helper handle that made lifting easy. It survived abuse testing without a scratch. An excellent pan, at an excellent price, that you’ll never have to replace.