How to Segment Citrus Fruits

It is Citrus Season and I think it’s Mother Nature’s special way of telling us to eat our Vitamin C during the height of cold and flu season!  In recent years, I’ve noticed that every supermarket, even the plain-Jane Safeway have expanded on their fruit selection, including citrus. I love seeing exotic Pomelos, Blood Oranges and Cara-Cara oranges sit next to Satsuma tangerines and the very basic Navel Oranges. While it’s wonderful to simply peel the fruit by hand or cut them into wedges, I sometimes want a more refined and artful way to serve the fruit, especially when I have guests. I would like to share a technique with you called Segmenting or in Culinary French it’s referred to as a “Supreme” (pronounced soo-prem, with the emphasis on the ‘prem’) as in Supremed citrus. This is where the fruit is peeled with a knife and the segments are removed from the citrus membrane. It’s a very classical way of serving citrus because the fruit looks very elegant and is easy to eat. Grapefruits, pomelos, oranges and even tangerines are wonderful this way, served simply with maybe some honey and torn mint as dessert. You can add a dollop or drizzle of yogurt too.

Here is how I Supreme citrus. Make sure your knife is sharpened and don’t be afraid to sharpen your knife in between cutting citrus because the fruit acid dulls knives rather quickly. First, you cut the top and bottom of the fruit to create a flat base.

Then you cut away the peel by slowly slicing around the citrus, removing the white pith and following the shape of the fruit so that it maintains its round  shape.

Repeat this until you have peeled the citrus.

(At this point you can slice the fruit into pretty rounds if you want to vary the shapes on your citrus salad. Tangerines are great this way.)

Next, hold the citrus with one hand and with the other, angle your knife and slice down between the white pith on one side of the segment,

and then the other side.

Repeat this until you have segmented the whole fruit.

Don’t forget to squeeze the juice of the pith! (you can mix it with honey and dress your citrus salad with it).

This is one way to Supreme. As you become more comfortable with this technique, you can modify it. I like to slice down onto one side of the segment, then slowly push my knife up at a slight angle to loosen the segment from the pith using the natural separation between the segments. This takes some dexterity and practice, but I like doing this because you remove ALL the fruit from the pith. (If you have noticed, I HATE waste.)

At this point, you can put the fruit into  a shallow bowl, mix the saved juice with some honey and drizzle it over the fruits. Tear some mint leaves over the fruit and toss VERY GENTLY. Serve immediately on its own, or with some really thick yogurt and maybe a shortbread cookie. The citrus is wonderful with a sponge cake or on top of a slice of  pound cake. There you go! Fast, easy, versatile and impressive too.

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