How Do You Use Orange Peels? (or, How to Eat a Grapefruit)

Filed in Gather Health Essential by on February 21, 2009 0 Comments

Recently I was at an Asian grocery and there were 50-pound boxes of oranges for sale for $14.  Of course, I bought one, and as might be expected they weren’t the world’s best oranges, but neither are the ones you pay top dollar for in the grocery.  We eventually ate them all, though about one in 15 went bad and had to be thrown away.


This also got me into buying grapefruit again.  I was once told by a retired produce manager that Texas makes the best grapefruit, and I have to agree.  If you’re grapefruit experience is limited to the battery acid that passes for grapefruit juice, I recommend you try eating a real, ripe Texas grapefruit.  But, there’s a ritual you have to follow, or you’re not taking my tip for what it is.  

1) I peel the grapefruit and then work to get most of the white off that’s still attached to the bottom of the individual sections.  There’s no need to remove all the white, because I understand it’s nutritious, but – much like whiskey – there’s only so much you can consume and then your experience becomes unpleasant.

2) Very carefully separate the individual sections.  If you get them all separated without getting any juice on your hands, you’ve done this perfectly.  The point is to keep the little “fruit cells” inside each grapefruit section intact and connected to one another.

3) With your teeth (or I prefer a pair of scissors), cut along the edge of a section – that’s the inside edge directly opposite the part that contacts the peel.  Carefully peel off each side of the membrane, taking with it as much of the part that separated the sweet inner fruit from the peel.

4) Eat the membrane.  If you don’t like it, fine, but you should try it, because if all you eat is the sweet part of foods, your diet is going to be unbalanced.  I find the membrane has a pleasant bitterness, and I wouldn’t think of discarding it.  What you do is ultimately up to you, but we are going into a depression (in case you haven’t noticed).

5) Now, eat the interior grapefruit, without any of the membrane attached or any of the “white stuff”.  If it’s good grapefruit – again, I recommend Texas grown – it can be fabulous.

The issue here for me is while I like the flavor of the membrane that encloses each section and I like the taste of the fruit, the two flavors combined is disgusting. 

And if you’re a fruit processor that throws whole grapefruit into a press, so the flavor of the outside of the peel gets into the mix, and then you package it in a tin can, wow, the end product is nasty indeed.  Right down there with canned Budweiser.


So, then we paid a visit to my mom in Mesa, Arizona.  While there we discovered it was citrus season, and you could buy a bag of 7 grapefruit for a dollar, and bags of oranges for a buck and a half.  We only bought $7 worth, because we didn’t want any of it to go bad.


Now, all along we’ve been throwing away all of the citrus peels, and I know that has to be a mistake.  I have two ideas, but am not sure how to proceed on either of them:

A) Great cleansers are made from orange peels, especially a natural laundry detergent I used to buy.  The clothes came out fresh and the citrus peel extract is a natural fabric softener.  The problem is the commercial product is very expensive.  Does anyone use orange peels in their wash?  Will grapefruit peels work also?  Do you use a mesh bag to keep the peels away from the clothes or can you just toss them in (assuming your not doing a load of dark colors, of course)?

B) Deet, the scary and effective insect repellant is, I understand, made from highly concentrated orange peel extract.  I’ve rubbed myself with the peels of a freshly-peeled orange and discovered this works just as well – even with Minnesota mosquitoes.  The problem is, if I’m eating my oranges in February, can I process the peels in some way that preserves the anti-bug effect?  And, do grapefruit peels work for this as well?


I know, and I suppose I should pass along, the fact that the effectiveness of orange peel extract is effective because it can be pretty nasty stuff when concentrated.  There is one automotive grease cleaner, for example, where the packaging warns you not to let it contact your skin, and don’t walk but run to a doctor if you get it in your eyes.

Your thoughts and advice are much appreciated.



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