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). Ask us your question in a comment below!

Originally published October 28, 2021

About Bruce Weinstein | Mark Scarbrough

Bruce and Mark are award-winning, international best-selling cookbook authors with thirty-six published cookbooks and over 1,000,000 copies of their books in print. Bruce and Mark have published on topics as diverse as ice cream, ham, barbecue, goat, and vegetarian main courses. They are masters of the air fryer with The Essential Air Fryer Cookbook (2019), and The Instant Pot with The Instant Bible (2018) and The Instant Pot Bible: The Next Generation (2020).
Their You-Tube channel Cooking with Bruce and Mark offers hours of delicious fun and their podcast Cooking with Bruce and Mark reaches 10s of thousands with their culinary antics.
When they are not in the kitchen, Mark teaches lit classes and runs book groups throughout Litchfield County and online while Bruce teaches knitting and designs knitted patterns for both men and women. Find out more about what they’re up to at

Hungry For More?

How to Store Holiday Cookies and Candies

Savvy tricks that ensure your Christmas creations look and taste as stunning as they did the moment you finished slaving over them even weeks after the fact. Let the holiday spirit linger!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Perhaps using organic tators might help as far as pesticides go. It`s good practice to buy organic produce grown in dirt when possible. I have never experienced this, thanks for posting.

  2. I always cook sweet potatoes – either in the oven or microwave – before peeling and have never had a problem with touching the skin.