How to Peel and Section A Grapefruit or Orange

How to Peel & Section Citrus

Citrus is in season and plentiful in the stores. That makes it an economical and nutritious choice to incorporate into our menu. King-Man and I eat all kinds of citrus this time of year: oranges, tangerines, clementines. But, our favorite is grapefruit. We got hooked on them a few years ago when we visited Grammy (my mom) in Arizona. Grammy had freshly picked grapefruit from her neighbors trees that she peeled, sectioned, and kept chilled in her fridge--always ready for us to eat. It's hard to think of a more refreshing, nutritious snack. Since then, when grapefruit are in season, I buy big bags at the store and peel and section them like Grammy. Chilled grapefruit is our favorite dessert this time of year. 

I also love citrus in salads. Check out my post about a Snow Pea, Grapefruit & Orange Salad. So good.

We used to always eat grapefruit the traditional way--cutting one in half, carving around each section with a special knife, and then scooping each section out and eating it with a spoon. It's so much easier to eat a grapefruit that has been peeled and sectioned. Plus, these grapefruit (or orange) sections can easily be put into salads to add a refreshing, nutritious twist.

The bitter truth

  • The white pith of both grapefruit and oranges is extremely bitter. That's the white layer between the outer peel and the flesh of the fruit. You don't want to eat that.
  • The membrane that encases each section of grapefruit is also bitter. That's why it's removed in the technique demonstrated here. However, the membrane of orange sections is not bitter; so it's up to you if you want to leave or remove the membrane from oranges. The orange membrane has beneficial fiber, but it's tough texture may not be desireable in some recipes.

Portions for recipes (approximate)

  • 1 medium grapefruit = 1-1/2 cups segments = 1 cup juice
  • 1 medium orange = 3/4 cup segments = 1/3 cup juice


Step-by-step photos for How to Peel and Section Citrus:

bowl citrus

A good, sharp knife is essential! The same technique I'm demonstrating for peeling and sectioning a grapefruit can be applied to oranges and other citrus. 

Step 1. Cut off the north and south poles (top and bottom) just enough to expose the flesh of the fruit.

Step 2. Begin slicing off the peel, cutting from the north to the south poles, following the curve of the fruit. The goal is to remove all of the pith without sacrificing too much of the edible flesh of the fruit.

cut ends  first slice

Continue slicing off the peeling, from top to bottom, moving all the way around the grapefruit. Go back and cut off any remaining bits of pith.

4 slices  all slices

Step 3. To remove the first segment, cut from the outside to the center just inside the membrane on either side of a section. Remove the section to a bowl.

first cut  first section

Step 4. With the first segment out, there's a little more room to see what you're doing and manipulate the knife. Cut inside the membrane on the left side of the next segment. Leave the knife in the center of the fruit, roll it up to the right so the knife is pulling the segment from the membrane on the other side, lifting out the segment as you roll the knife up to the right.

2nd cut  lift section

By pulling the segment off of the membrane on the right side, rather than cutting it, you'll remove all of the fruit's flesh with the segment intact and not leave some attached to the membrane. Less waste, more to eat!

Repeat this step as you remove each segment. First cutting down the left side of the section and then rolling the knife up to pull the section away from the membrane on the right side of the segment.

lift section 2  life section 3

Step 5. After all of the segments have been cut out and put in a bowl, take the leftover membranes in your hand, hold them over the bowl of segments, and squeeze out any remaining juice.

bowl with sections  full bowl with sections

Look at these beauties! Perfect and ready to eat or add to a salad.

sections in circle

I peel and section a big bag of grapefruit at one time, put them in these 6.5 oz. serving size bowls (with their juice), and keep them in the fridge for up to 4 days. These are so easy to grab for a quick snack. This is our dinner dessert most evenings. They are always tart, sometimes sweet, always refreshing. 

bowls for fridge

Here's a delicious salad recipe using grapefruit and orange segments:
Click to view Snow Pea, Grapefruit, & Orange Salad recipe 

salad thumbnail


Make it a yummy day!

Share this Recipe

Posted on Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

Home    |    Recipes    |    Archives    |    About The Yummy Life    |    Contact
The Yummy Life is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to
Privacy Policy - © 2016 The Yummy Life - All rights reserved