Today we will look at 5 easy ways how to cut an orange. This will enable you to make all sorts of dishes using the exact type of cut oranges that you need! I will show you how to remove the rind and the pith, cut around the membranes, and adjust the consistency of your oranges.
And best of all, these techniques apply to all citrus fruits and other types as well! Make sure you also check out my guide on How To Zest An Orange.
The Anatomy Of The Humble Orange
While I wouldn’t go as far as saying that oranges are underrated fruits, they are definitely misunderstood. Many people don’t know how to properly prepare them or how to properly cut them for various uses.
A great example of this is when making a fruit salad or plate. The correct method for how to cut oranges for a fruit tray differs from the techniques you should use when making orange marmalade.
Secondly, many people don’t understand that some parts of an orange aren’t suited for some recipes.
For example, the pith of an orange (the white stringy parts) is very bitter and tart. So, adding it to a smoothie or cocktail will ruin the overall flavor. In that case, it would be better to rather use segments than orange wedges.
So, today we will first look at the different parts of an orange to better understand which cut you should use.
The skin of an orange is edible but not always appetizing. The exocarp (thin orange outer layer) can be grated to add an uber-fruity, zesty flavor to your dish.
However, underneath the thin layer lies the mesocarp. It’s thick and hard. And it has varying shades of white in it too. This part shouldn’t be eaten or included in your recipe. It’s bitter and tart.
Most prepping and cutting techniques remove the exocarp and mesocarp. But again, feel free to grate the outside first before peeling the skin off.
An orange consists of many segments which are separated by a white membrane (a wall). The segments are full of pulp and orange juice, which are the parts you want to get to.
The white membrane isn’t appealing to eat, but it is edible. When you make segments, the goal is to remove this bitter membrane. It makes the end product less tart and only adds the fruity, citrussy flavors of the orange.
Finally, almost all types of oranges contain seeds. These should be removed completely. They will add a strange texture and a very earthy, bitter flavor.
Unfortunately, the seeds are scattered throughout the segments. While they are predominantly located in the center, you can sometimes find them closer to the rind.
How To Prepare An Orange Before Cutting
Now that you understand why you sometimes have to remove some parts of this fruit, let’s move on to how you will start preparing them. This technique applies to all methods below and has to be done properly.
Before looking at how to cut an orange, you first have to peel it properly. There are two methods you can use:
Hand-Peeling An Orange
This is the easiest and quickest way to peel an orange. However, it isn’t the most effective at removing the pitch (white strands) between the rind and orange segments.
In some cases, it’s perfectly fine having some pith left. But when you are looking for a sweet, clean orange flavor, the second method is best.
Dig your thumb in at the top or base of the orange. Pinch a piece of rind between your fingers and start pulling it away from the segments. Keep going until all of the rinds are removed.
If you want to, you can peel away some excess pith. But this will take uber long to do properly.
Peeling An Orange With A Knife
You should only peel an orange using this method if you are making segments or beautiful garnishes. And, of course, if you don’t want any pith on the orange pieces.
This method is great at quickly removing all the pith from the segments. But it does tend to cut away from pulp and juice in the process.
To start, cut off a little piece from the top and bottom of the orange. Cut away enough so you see the orange pulp. It will show you more or less how thick the rind is.
Then, place the orange onto the chopping board, with one of the cut sides facing downwards. It offers stability and will make cutting away the rind much easier.
Start slicing the rind off, following the shape of the orange. Don’t worry if you miss some parts of the skin. You can just go in again and remove them.
Keep turning the orange, slicing away at the rind, until the entire orange is peeled.
How To Cut An Orange
Unless you want the rind to stay on your cut orange, you can use the methods above to remove it.
Method 1: How To Cut An Orange Into Segments
Orange segments consist of only pulp and juice. It completely removes the membranes separating the segments from each other and the pith on the outside.
To make segments, I highly recommend peeling the oranges with a knife.
Once peeled, you can hold the orange in your hand. Use a small sharp paring knife to make a slice into one side of the segment. Slice as closely as you can to the membrane, making sure to not cut into it.
Then, on the opposite side of the segment (against the adjacent membrane), make another slice. This slice should be angled to where the first one end.
Carefully remove the beautiful, clean segment from the orange and set it aside. Repeat this process for every segment. Keep in mind, that they will have different sizes because you are following the natural shape of the orange.
Finally, you will be left with a star-shaped ball-like orange without any segments. That piece can be used to make juice, marmalade, a coulis, or compote. Any dish where you won’t pick up the texture or flavor of the membranes and pitch.
Method 2: How To Cut Orange Wedges
Orange wedges are different from segments because they don’t cut to avoid the membranes. They are more rustic and better suited for making jams, coulis, textured sauces, smoothies, or purees.
The easiest way how to cut an orange into wedges is to remove the skin (using any of the two methods) and then cut it in half.
Each half can either be cut into two, three, or four pieces. This makes varying sizes of wedges.
You can also make orange wedges with the rind still on. This is great for easy-to-eat or on-the-go snacks for picnics, etc.
Method 3: Slicing Oranges Into Wheels (Slices)
Sliced orange pieces are beautiful garnishes or fruity beds for roasted veggies or meat pieces. A great example of this is how people bake fish on a bed of lemon slices or how you cover a roast chicken with orange slices.
Another great use for orange slices is making candied orange pieces for cakes. You can use this technique to garnish this Orange Cake.
To make slices, you can either keep the skin on or take it off. It’s up to you and whether you want to eat them or not.
To make the slices, first cut the top off. Don’t remove too much of the orange, but enough to expose a good amount of pulp.
Then, holding on to the orange firmly with your non-dominant hand, make clean slices in one sweeping motion.
Method 4: Best Way To Cut Orange Into Cubes
You may be wondering why you would possibly need cubed oranges. But the answer is really simple!
First, they are needed to make coulis, toppings, textures sauces, and compotes. But larger cubes can also be used on fruit skewers or meaty ones.
For these purposes, you will need to remove the rind.
Then, you will also need to cut the oranges into segments or wedges. It depends on whether you mind the pith or not.
Once you have your cut pieces, simply start diving them into the sizes you want. And don’t forget to remove the seeds! They will add their bitter flavor to the recipe if you don’t.
Method 5: Skin-On Cuts
Now, while this is technically not a cut, it is a way to prepare and cut them.
If you are making a marmalade, you can still add some rind to the mixture. In that case, it may not be necessary to first remove the entire skin before adding it. You can simply cut the orange into segments, slices, or cubes while the skin is still attached.
Then, you can also keep the skin on and slice right through it when you are making dried orange garnishes or candied orange slices.