Have you ever ordered a parfait at brunch and instantly noticed the clean-cut citrus slices didn't have any white membranes? Mhm. The chef probably used a simple trick, which you can easily perfect at home. Segmenting citrus fruit, also known as supreming, is a French cooking technique for separating the peel and bitter pith from the delicious fruit so it can be served in slices. At first, it might seem tedious, but supreming citrus is actually quite simple once you learn the proper method. No more peeling oranges with your hands, and no more picking pith out from under your nails hours after you’ve peeled your orange.
So, why should you segment citrus fruit? Other than the fact that it looks much neater and leaves your hands less sticky, it eliminates the bitter taste that too often overpowers your citrus slices. The pith, the spongy white layer between the fruit and the peel, contains most of the citrus fruit’s bitterness, so make sure to get rid of it.
The first few times you might find yourself slicing off too much of the good stuff, but that’s normal. Once you get the hang of this technique, you’ll only cut out what’s necessary.
Grab an orange (or any other citrus fruit). Use a paring knife to slice off both ends—the stem end and flower end, if you want to get technical. Stand it upright and remove the peel cutting from top to bottom, working your way around the orange. If you still see pith after the first slice, cut a little bit deeper. If you see too much of the orange flesh, you’re cutting too deep.
Once you’ve removed all of the peel and the majority of the pith, you’re ready to cut the segments from their membranes. Just remember to hold the orange over a bowl to catch any excess juice—save and drink that in the morning. Slice the fruit along the insides of the membranes to lift each segment out. By the time you’ve worked your way around the fruit, the membranes attached to the center should resemble the leaves of an open book.