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Remember that episode of All in the Family when Gloria decides to shake things up by serving Archie a half grapefruit with a Maraschino cherry for sunday breakfast instead of his usual toast, eggs, and link sausages?

Needless to say, he wasn't too keen on the idea

Now I'm not going to say that had Gloria cut the grapefruit into pretty, pith-and-membrane-free segments that he would have jumped all over them, but she might have been able to get away with at least one or two fewer "now listen little goil"s.

There are several reasons to cut your citrus fruits into pith-free segments (supremes if you want to be fancy about it).

  • The pith is bitter and can ruin the flavor of the fruit. I'm sure many a grapefruit hater would change their mind after tasting the sweet segments the way they were intended.
  • The membrane between the segments is papery, gets stuck in your teeth, and adds nothing to the flavor of the fruit
  • The slices can be incorporated much more attractively into a finished dish. Fruit salads are tastier. Relishes and vinaigrettes can be eaten without having to pick bits out.
  • As usual, it makes you look way cool.

As with most fruit, when shopping for citrus, look for fruit that seems heavy for its size. Citrus should give quite a bit when you squeeze them. If they are firm, leave them on the shelf and move on. Citrus fruit will get softer as it sits at home, but don't expect a sour orange to become sweeter once you bring it home.

Ripe citrus fruit can be stored for around two weeks in the crisper drawer in your fridge, though smaller ones like limes and lemons may begin to dry out on their exterior. Once cut into segments, citrus fruit can be stored in its own juice for up to a week.

About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.

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