Knife Skills 101: How to Supreme Citrus

Knife Skills 101: How to Supreme Citrus

Summer is prime time for using citrus fruits. Supreming, also known as segmenting or sectioning, is a technique in which you remove the skin, pith, and membrane from an orange, grapefruit, or another piece of citrus. Chefs champion this technique, especially when serving summer salads that feature citrus. This allows for a clean bite—one without a bitter pith or papery membrane.

The citrus’s skin is meant to protect the fruit inside. Inside that dermis is the pith, which is the white weblike structure. Then there’s the membrane, the thin layer that segments the citrus and keeps the pieces intact.

How do you cut through this all? Let's use an orange as an example. First, lay the orange on its equator and cut off both the top and bottom tips at the poles. Now that you have flat surfaces to work on, rotate the orange so that it is standing on one of its poles. Now you can start cutting away the pith and the skin--simply run your blade from one pole to the other following the curve of the orange. 

You should now be left with a completely “naked” orange held together by its membrane. Pick up the orange in your non-dominant hand and grab a paring or utility knife in the other. Slowly slice on each side of the membrane to remove the segment. Slowly work your way around the entire orange, removing one segment at a time. Now you’ve successfully supremed an orange!