Just tooling around...
Apple Peeling Machines
Reviews of past and present designs.
Continuing with our series of apple processing posts ( see Fallen Apple Harvesting Tools and The Freeze-Squeeze Juicing Method ), we will now check out the devices that have been invented for quickly peeling and coring apples. Apples and pears tend to all ripen at the same time, so if you want to turn them into applesauce or pie filling you need a way to quickly peel them.
Back around 1850, when manufacturing became efficient enough to allow people to buy small machines for themselves, the invention and production of apple peeling gizmos skyrocketed. Between the 1850's and the 1890's there were over 100 different apple peeling mechanisms patented. Out of all the antique designs, only two have been carried forward to modern time: the lathe design and the turntable design. The arc design seems to have been abandoned.
Special thanks to Mark Viney, curator of The Virtual Apple Parer Museum, for these pictures of antique apple peelers.
Lathe type Apple Peeler / Corers
The lathe design seems to be the most common, perhaps because it is easy to incorporate a corer and a slicer into the mechanism.
The basic mechanism is a threaded rod that is cranked by hand past a peeling blade. As the rod is cranked it spins the apple and steadily moves it forward. The peeling blade is spring-loaded against the fruit and has some type of depth stop to keep it from cutting in too deep.
If it has a corer and slicer attachment, it is usually a ring shaped blade fastened to a vertical blade. The ring blade cuts the core and the vertical blade slices the fruit into a spiral as it it spins forward.
Though the lathe design is common, it's not fool-proof. One potential problem is the amount of fruit wasted if a small U shaped peeling blade is used that cuts too deep and takes excess fruit along with the peel. (see the 1:43 minute video) So choose a model with a large U blade and an adjustable cutting depth.
Problems arise when any part of the mechanism is gets out of adjustment. As the second video shows, it can be frustrating to use a peeler that is destroying the fruit. It is likely that the peeler in this video has a dull peeling blade, the depth stop device was missing, or the spring was way too tight. (see the 3:08 minute video)
Turntable type Apple Peelers
The turntable design is less common, but the modern versions I found do seem to peel the fruit better. They have the advantage of having a wide flat peeling blade. A flat blade wastes less fruit than the U shaped blades.
Since the turntable style peelers don't include coring devices, you would have to use one of those spoke-shaped push style apple corers to finish the job. Coring by hand does let you choose the size you chunk your apple into for pie filling. Bigger chunks of apple give more texture and crunch to pie than the thin spiral cut pieces created by a lathe style peeler/corer.
I apologize that the second video is in a language you don't understand, but he did a nice job of showing two plastic versions. There is an english video of a plastic turntable style peeler here.
You remember "Tim the Tool Man" Taylor from the old Home Improvement TV show? He would never have been satisfied just cranking these peelers by hand, or settling for just peeling little apples. So in these next two videos you'll see what happens when you add some electric power, and also a machine that peels watermelons. Enjoy!
Thanks for reading! Greg Baka