How Can I Protect My Hands When Peeling Sweet Potatoes?

How to protect your hands when peeling sweet potatoes might not seem like a big problem, but for one reader, it really is. The Never Cook Naked Guys tackle the question of a bad reaction without giving up those sweet, sweet tubers. Ahead, find out how to tackle this conundrum.

Four sweet potatoes in a wooden bowl on a piece of burlap.

Dear Never Cook Naked Guys: When peeling sweet potatoes or yams, my skin has an odd reaction, almost as if it’s about to peel. Yet this doesn’t happen with regular potatoes. Any thoughts?—Unsightly Hands

Dear Unsightly: You don’t have to give up that orange tuber—which is swell news, because if you did, who’d want to come to your house for Thanksgiving dinner?

Still, your rather unsightly hands might be a hindrance to general contentment among your guests—not to mention yourself. As long as you’re not having an allergic reaction when you eat the sweet potatoes, you’re probably having a topical reaction to the proteins, molds, or even pesticides found on the surface of the lumpy tubers. This is easily solved in any number of several ways. Choose whichever approach best suits your lifestyle:

1. Have children. They do well at kitchen tasks. We don’t have any ourselves, but we’ve watched Leave It to Beaver and feel we can speak to the general willingness of children everywhere to do chores.

2. Wear latex or rubber gloves when dealing with specimens of this particular rhizome—including while you give them a thorough scrub under cool running water prior to cooking. You’ll soon have smooth hands—and not a worry in the world.

By the way, it’s best to also keep one degree of separation from those pesky vegetables at the table by using silverware, even on finger food–like roasted sweet potato wedges.  After all, do you really want those children you’ve carefully raised to see you eating with your fingers?

Our very clever, very clothed Never Cook Naked columnists are at your disposal, able to troubleshoot everything from questionable table etiquette to tricky cooking techniques (as well as, natch, proper cooking attire). Curious to learn more solutions to culinary conundrums? Just ask! Drop us a comment below.