Tomato Stripper: Serrated OXO Swivel Peeler

The OXO Swivel Peeler has always been an impressive instrument. I'm no Fruit Ninja, but I can remove the peel from an apple, sometimes as one long spiral, in less than 30 seconds.

It's useless on tomatoes and peaches, so when I saw the serrated model--on sale--I snatched it off the display. For the price, I could throw the peeler away if it failed, which I suspected it would.

Removing tomato and peach skins used to involve blanching the fruit in boiling water for a minute, then plunging them into cold water. That's a hassle, so it was a thrill when the serrated peeler made a smooth but shallow slide under the skin of a tomato, and continued moving, not as effortlessly as the regular peeler on an apple, but satisfying nonetheless.

Nothing's perfect, as I discovered while stripping an older, softer tomato. The blade slipped and caught my finger, and it was not a clean cut, but a jagged piranha bite. The OXO serrated peeler now demands a considerable amount of respect and caution, as well as a special technique. I hold the peeler still, grab the tomato or peach like a baseball, and twist the fruit into the blade.

Also, it's no use trying to clean the blade with a cloth or dish brush, as the teeth will dig into those, too. I just run it under a hard spray of water or use a toothbrush.

Some decent tomatoes can be found in farmers' markets and some supermarkets this time of year. I prefer to buy them with the stem attached, and if not, I store them with the stem hole facing down, as it prevents microbes from entering the blemish and prematurely rotting the tomatoes.

The Texas Hill Country peaches are smaller this year, due to drought, as are Cooper Farms peaches, now available at Central Market. Growers are claiming that the smaller size means more concentrated flavor, and it's true.

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