Hundred-year-old Serving Suggestions for Oranges

orange half on plateDid you ever eat an orange with a spoon? I never did until I prepared this post and needed a photo to illustrate it.

Here are several suggestions for preparing oranges in a hundred-year-old cookbook:

Ways of Preparing Oranges for Serving

  1. Wipe orange and cut in halves crosswise. Place one-half on a fruit plate, having an orange spoon or teaspoon on plate at the right of fruit.Β 
  2. Peel an orange and remove as much of the white portion as possible. Remove pulp by sections, which may be accomplished by using a sharp knife and cutting pulp from tough portion first on one side of section, then on the other. Should there be any white portion of skin remaining on pulp it should be cut off. Arrange sections on glass dish or fruit plate. If the orange is a seeded one, remove seeds.Β 
  3. Remove peel from an orange in such a way that there remains a one-half inch band of peel equal distance from stem and blossom end. Cut band, separate sections, and arrange around a mound of sugar.Β 

The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book (1921 Edition)

Is it just me, or are the second and third descriptions not very clearly written?

For the second one – Is the author just providing a very detailed description of how to separate an orange into sections? . . . or is the author telling the reader to remove the outer membrane from each section?

And, for the third one – Why is a one-half inch band of peel left around the middle of the orange, only to then cut the band?

40 thoughts on “Hundred-year-old Serving Suggestions for Oranges

  1. True, seems to make something so beautifully simple, and simply beautiful, complicated. The first one, though, if not instructed to first serate around the sections, the first puncture by the spoon will squirt juice over the hapless diner. Mouth watering though.

  2. Hmm. Surely nobody reaches adulthood without knowing how to tackle an orange? But the first example is ok for eating grapefruit, so long as you have a serrated grapefruit spoon.

    1. Like you, I’ve eaten many grapefruit halves with a spoon over the years, but this was the first time I used a spoon to scoop out orange sections. The spoon actually worked better than I thought it might.

  3. The second one describes how to remove the sections without any membrane. This is often how citrus is prepared when offering fruit for a cheese or fruit course table-side.

    1. I have occasionally supremed an orange. I hadn’t realized that is what the second one was describing. The author sure made the process seem complex in the description- while supreming an orange is mostly just tedious. πŸ™‚

  4. This was a fun post, Sheryl. Oranges are such beautiful creatures, I guess the cookbook author was trying to highlight their beauty, but as you and everyone else here noted, they just complicated it. Your photo is lovely.

    1. I never would have thought about plating an orange if the 1921 cookbook hadn’t suggested it. I was surprised by the beauty of this simple presentation. So I guess that I learned something new from the old cookbook.

      1. I haven’t had a homemade holiday fruit salad in years. They were so much tastier than the modern commercially-prepared fruit salads.

  5. I sometimes prepare my grapefruits (as taught in home ec. in school) by cutting it in half (like in your photo) then inserting a knife along the edge of the peel and in as far as I can – then cutting all the way around to loosen the orange from the peel. Then I create the wedges by cutting along the membrane between each one. Then I can scoop out each wedge with a serrated edge grapefruit spoon. Time consuming, but a nice way to present the fruit for a special meal. Works for oranges too, of course.

    1. That is how we learned in my home ec also, although we just scooped them out with the spoon then. Pretty sure I have never used a serrated edge grapefruit spoon in my entire life. πŸ™‚

      1. When I was a child we used to have several serrated-edge grapefruit spoons. I think that one of the reasons that I liked grapefuit back then was because of the “special” spoons.

    2. When I eat a grapefruit half, I generally insert a knife along the edge of the peel. It makes the pieces so much easier to get out, but I’ve never tried cutting along the membrane between each one. I’ll have to give it a try.

  6. I have a migraine threatening, but it does remind me that I could prepare an orange like a grapefruit and use a grapefruit spoon to eat it. I have 9 big oranges in the fridge. Maybe we’ll try that!

    1. Oh dear – I hope that your headache is better by now. You should try cutting an orange in half and eating it with a spoon. I think that you’d enjoy eating an orange prepared this way. Before I ate the orange in the photo, I used a knife to cut around the edge of the peel. The segments came out very easily, and it was a very nice way to eat the orange.

  7. #2 does seem just like separating an orange into sections, presented in a VERY detail manner:) Possibly in #3, the band is then being cut going the other direction, so that a portion remains on each section?

    1. Maybe – It might make a nice presentation to have a portion of the peel remaining on each section, though I still can’t quite picture what it would look like.

  8. Getting fancy with oranges too! Someone must have been bored.😁 I just slice in rings then slice the rings in half with peel on . Grand children seem happy with that arrangement.

    1. πŸ™‚ Works for me. My mother used to make “orange smiles” which were vertically sliced pieces of the orange with the peel still on.

  9. My father loved grapefruit which he sprinkled with sugar, put under the broiler for a bit and then ate with his own very special grapefruit spoon. “Who took my grapefruit spoon?” being a common shout in the morning at his four kids. No such ceremony with oranges.

  10. I can’t remember exactly which book it soon, but I remember in one of the Little House books a teenage Laura goes to a party where oranges are served, and none of the guests knows what to do with them, having never eaten them before. They all watch the host, who peels his orange and then eats each section alternating with a bite of frosted birthday cake.

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