There are highly specialized cooking gadgets for every task you can imagine, from slicing avocados to seeding pomegranates. But not every hurdle you face in the kitchen requires a shopping trip. If you’re looking for an easier way to remove the eyes from potatoes, you may already have the tool for the job at home.
According to LifeSavvy, many vegetable peelers come with with a sharp nub or scooper at the end that serves a hidden purpose. The main blade is great for slicing away potato skins, but it can miss the stubborn eyes embedded in the flesh. To get rid of these blemishes, simply scoop them out using the end of your peeler—a.k.a. “potato eyer.” This is more efficient than scraping at the spot with your peeler, and safer than digging into it with the tip of a paring knife.
In most cases, getting rid of the eyes on your potatoes is an aesthetic choice. These bumps are the early stages of sprouts, which are a normal sign that your potato is still trying to grow. When they’re tiny, potato eyes are no cause for concern. They become a problem when knobby protrusions erupt from the skin. Potato sprouts contain the toxins solanine and chaconine, which can cause headaches, vomiting, and gastrointestinal problems if consumed in large amounts. Though Poison Control recommends throwing away any potatoes that have started to sprout, some food experts say they’re still safe to eat as long as you remove the eyes and skin.
Vegetable peelers are a worthwhile investment for home cooks, but they’re not the only way to peel a lot of potatoes quickly. If you’re making mashed potatoes tonight, all you need to remove the skins is a bowl of ice water and a dish towel. You can see how the trick is done here.