How to Peel an Orange

Have you been peeling oranges the wrong way? Follow these simple instructions for lightning-quick orange peeling and become a legendary rockstar!

Step One: Take the orange in the fingertips of your left hand and cradle it from beneath. The top of the orange (where the fruit originally attached to the tree) should point toward the ceiling. That is, the orange should be oriented relative to the Earth more or less as it was when originally attached to the tree. If the bottom of the orange is visible (other than in a reflective surface or to another person or creature), rotate the orange with the help of your right hand until the orange is oriented as described in the previous sentence. Your fingertips should be spaced relatively evenly about the circumference of the fruit (albeit with a larger gap between your thumb and little finger, as is natural for most human hands). If your left hand is not positioned as described, move past the disappointment and try again. (Note: Where this guide refers to your ‘left hand’, read ‘non-preferred hand’. Left-handed readers should, where instructed to take the orange in their left hand, take the orange in their right hand. Ambidextrous readers should choose their ugliest or stupidest hand.) Using your right hand, take a small, sharp knife by the handle. To test whether you are holding the knife correctly, make a fist around the knife handle (that is, gripping the knife handle within the fist (that is, folding the fingers around the knife handle so that you have what is effectively a fist with a knife handle running along the palm and held in place by the curled fingers with the blade protruding from the thumb-end of the fist)) and orient your hand so that your thumb faces the ceiling. The blade of the knife should now also point toward the ceiling. Rotate the knife (by reorienting your right hand without changing your grip on the knife) so that the blade is parallel to the floor with its sharpened edge facing away from your body. Move the knife and/or orange until the blade (still parallel to the floor) makes contact with the peel of the orange about halfway between the top and bottom of the orange (note that the top of the orange should still be oriented so that it faces as near as practicable to the ceiling). Using your right hand (and offering some resistance with your left as necessary), apply gradually increasing force to the peel of the orange using the sharpened blade of the knife, dragging the blade gently across the peel. (Note: Where this guide refers to a ‘ceiling’, you should assume that you are inside. If you happen to be outside when peeling your orange, imagine that you are in a grand ballroom with a beautiful ceiling and Bach’s Minuet in G Major playing in the background.) Continue to increase the applied force until the blade of the knife penetrates the peel, then drag the length of the knife’s sharpened edge back and forth in a straight line parallel to the floor until the knife has cut all the way through the peel and rind to the orange’s delicious, juicy flesh. This should require a cut approximately 5mm deep, but do not use this as a hard and fast rule as the thickness of orange peel and rind can vary significantly from fruit to fruit. Do not cut through the flesh, as the orange juice will leak out and sting any open wounds on your hands. Rotate the orange about its vertical axis (checking first to ensure that the orange is still oriented as described in the second sentence of this step one), using the fingertips of your left hand. It is difficult to describe the action required to do this, so please read the next section slowly and perhaps twice. Move the orange clockwise (clockwise as you look down at it, that is) by simultaneously pushing all of your fingertips in that direction. When your fingertips cannot comfortably extend any further, release the pressure on the orange and allow the lower parts of your fingers (proximal phalanges) to cradle the orange. With the orange safely held in place, return your fingertips to their original position. Repeat this process until you have rotated the orange a full 360 degrees. It is important to release the pressure on your fingertips while you return them to their original position, otherwise you will merely twist the orange back and forth within a very narrow range of motion. As you rotate the orange, ensure that the knife blade continues to slice through the full depth of the orange’s peel and rind. Now, if you imagine for a moment that the orange is Planet Mars, you should be holding a succulent Planet Mars with a single incision along the full extent of its Equator. Carefully put the knife aside, and again using your right hand, take a flat-handled teaspoon by the handle. Orient your left hand as described in the sentence beginning “to test whether you are”. This time, the round ‘scoop’ end of the teaspoon should face the floor, with the end of the spoon’s ‘handle’ facing the ceiling. Slide the handle of the teaspoon through the incision in the orange and toward the ceiling, separating the orange’s peel and rind from its mouth-watering flesh. Rotate the orange a full 360 degrees about its vertical axis using the fingertip-shuffling technique described above. As you do this, vary the extent to which the teaspoon is inserted between the orange’s thigh-quivering flesh and rind, to help separate the two. Carefully rotate the orange so that the part of the orange previously referred to as its ‘top’ now faces the floor. If you are a small child, you may need to put the teaspoon down and use your right hand to do this. Your left hand should be in the same position as for all of the above movements, again cradling the orange in your fingertips. Again rotate the orange a full 360 degrees to separate the flesh from the inedible rind, but with the orange in this new, uncomfortable position carefully remove the peel from the orange. It should slide effortlessly away from the flesh. Remember to remove the peel from both the top and bottom halves of the orange. Some of the bitter white pith will still be attached to the orange, limiting the pleasure of the eating experience and preventing you from dividing into its segments (or carpels). Retrieve the knife that you put aside earlier, and cut away the disgusting pith.

Step Two: Congratulate yourself - you have peeled an orange! Bite into it whole and let the juice drip from your chin.

Things you will need: Orange, paring knife, teaspoon, will to succeed.