On Peeling Oranges

In The Wizardry of Jewish Women, one family peels oranges with a fork. Chaz Brenchley asked me how this was done.

I began peeling oranges this way when I was a teenager. It was partly for the cooking possibilities and partly for the clean fingernails and partly because it’s wonderful as a party trick.

Someone showed me it as a way of creating bowls from the skin of the fruit. Perfect for fruit jelly and ice cream and putting back together and into the fruit bowl so that someone grabs at a fruit and finds a mere shell. Not that I would do something that wicked. Not past my teen years, anyhow.

Photo and orange peeling by Gillian Polack

The method is really straightforward. You use a single tine (or prong, if you’d rather call it a prong) to cut just below the skin, halfway between the two ends. You want to cut through the pith, but not enter the flesh at all. It should be a perfect circle and meet itself when you finish.

Photo and orange peeling by Gillian Polack

Then you turn the fork upside down and use the other end as a lever. Enter through the cut you just made and gently push it further and further around the orange, just under the skin.

Photo and orange peeling by Gillian Polack

When you’ve liberated the orange from the skin, it will just come off.

Photo and orange peeling by Gillian Polack


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  1. *wanders outside to pick an orange, for science!*

  2. For science! (You’re picking oranges very nonchalantly these days, BTW. As if there’s sunshine…)

    1. As if there’s ever anything else. Actually, to be fair, this morning was so cloudy and humid there was actual rainfall. Not measurable, but observable. I observed it, for it fell on me. But now the sun is properly out again, and I am idling the evening away in the garden, with gastroporn about Gascony.

      1. Wheres I’m indoors staying out of the late winter rain. In two days it will be summer…

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