8 Tips to Prevent Itching Caused by Peeling Starchy Vegetables
Image Credit: Here are a few tips to prevent skin irritation caused by starchy veggies | Unsplash

Cooking with starchy vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, and yams can be a delightful experience, but the itching that sometimes accompanies peeling them can be quite bothersome. This itching is often a result of natural compounds found in these vegetables, which can irritate the skin. Well, nothing that nature provides us with is devoid of reason. So, let us see why starchy vegetables cause skin irritation and 8 tips to prevent that.

Why Do Starchy Vegetables Cause Itching?

Starchy vegetables contain natural compounds called glycoalkaloids, primarily solanine and chaconine. These glycoalkaloids act as a defense mechanism for the plant, protecting it from pests and diseases. While these compounds are more concentrated in the leaves and stems, small amounts can also be present in the skin of starchy vegetables. When you peel or handle these vegetables, especially if they are not stored properly or have started to sprout, you may release these compounds onto your skin, leading to itching and irritation.

Tips to Prevent Itching When Peeling Starchy Vegetables

Wear Gloves:

The most effective way to prevent itching when handling starchy vegetables is to wear gloves. Latex or rubber gloves provide a protective barrier between your skin and the vegetable's compounds, ensuring you won't come into direct contact with them. After all, prevention is always better than cure.

Choose Younger Vegetables:

Younger starchy vegetables typically have lower levels of glycoalkaloids. Look for vegetables that are firm, smooth-skinned, and show no signs of sprouting or green discoloration. This will prevent itching or infection.

Proper Storage:

Correct storage can help minimise the formation of glycoalkaloids. Keep your starchy vegetables in a cool, dark place, away from direct sunlight, which can encourage increased glycoalkaloid production. So, the chances of these properly stored veggies giving you a skin irritation is far less.

Rinse Thoroughly:

Before peeling or cooking, rinse your starchy vegetables thoroughly under cold running water. This can help wash away surface contaminants and some of the glycoalkaloids. It is advisable to wear gloves while washing the vegetables too.

Try Vinegar or Lemon Juice:

Some people find relief from itching by rubbing a bit of vinegar or lemon juice on their hands before peeling or handling starchy vegetables. The acidity may help neutralise the glycoalkaloids. This is a good gharelu nuskha or home-made tip that is recommended by out mothers and grand mothers.

Peel Efficiently:

When peeling starchy vegetables, use a sharp peeler and remove only the skin, leaving as little flesh as possible. This reduces the contact between your skin and the glycoalkaloid-containing layer. Keep in mind to work with the sharp peeler safely while doing this. 

Avoid Sprouted Areas:

If you notice any sprouted or green areas on your starchy vegetables, cut them away and discard them. These areas tend to have higher glycoalkaloid concentrations, which makes the irritation more intense.

Consider Alternative Cooking Methods:

Instead of peeling, consider alternative cooking methods like baking or roasting your starchy vegetables with the skin on. The high heat can cause the glycoalkaloids to break down, making them less likely to irritate your skin.

By wearing gloves, choosing younger vegetables, practicing proper storage, and following efficient peeling and cooking methods, you can enjoy your favourite potato, sweet potato, or yam dishes without the discomfort of itching. Remember that prevention is key, so take these precautions to make your culinary experience more enjoyable and itch-free.