Thursday, March 21, 2013

Kitchen Tactics: Segmenting Citrus

Segmenting citrus is not my idea of a good time, however, for the sake of quality it is very important to segment citrus for canning (and for some recipes in general).  Keeping the membrane on any citrus will turn your canned product into an overly bitter item that is uneatable and, trust me on this, when you spend time canning a product it sucks to throw it out because it's unpalatable.  Also, there are  some citrus that have very thick membranes (like grapefruit and pomelo) that just ruins the flavor of the fruit because it's just too chewy to enjoy.  I love grapefruit but I hate cutting it in half and eating it with a spoon (I know, I'm high maintenance) so when I buy grapefruit, I will segment 2 or 3 of them at a time and then eat them within a few days.

For the sake of example (and because I have 8 pounds in my fridge),  I will show you how to segment citrus using a pomelo.  Pomelos are a very big grapefruit.  In fact, they are  considered the grand-daddy of grapefruit.  Their rind is thick and their pith is extra thick and super spongy.


You will need a boning knife, a bowl, a cutting board, and your beautiful citrus!  Make sure you sharpen your boning knife before hand; the sharper your knife the easier and quicker segmenting your citrus will be (just be sure not to cut yourself)!  Make sure you wash and scrub your citrus and dry it.

First, you will cut the top and bottom of your citrus so that you can lay it flat on one end.  You want to make sure you cut low enough so that you expose the fruit.

My picture taking is questionable in general but this is where my picture taking gets uber-questionable. 
I only have two hands, people!
 
You're going to slice down the citrus, following the curvature of the fruit.  Your goal is to just get rid of the membrane.  You will lose some citrus in the process but if your knife is sharp enough, it will be neglible.

 
Once you finish slicing around the curvature of the citrus, it will look like this.

It's depressing to see how much fruit is actually inside all that rind.
 
Now, this is where a sharp knife is important and where I ran out of hands so I have no pictures to show you how to do this particular step.  Sorry!  Holding the fruit over a bowl, you will slice down between the fruit and the membrane down to the core, repeat on the other side of the segment of citrus.  You should be able to scoop out the fruit and let it fall into the bowl.  Hopefully the following picture shows you the gist of what we are trying to do.

 
The first few times you segment a citrus, it will take you a while to do it and you will be cursing me to the high heavens for even talking you into doing it.  However, with practice, you get really quick at it and something juicy and not fibrous, like a lemon, will be super easy to do.  You'll work your way all the way around the fruit and will end up with just the core and membranes.

 
Give it a good squeeze into the bowl and toss it out.  You'll end up with a bowl of lovely segmented citrus!

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