Orange ya glad I asked this in time for summer?
April 27, 2010 4:33 PM   Subscribe

What is the best way for someone to peel an orange, if they have short fingernails? Assume growing longer nails, or eating the orange cut into slices are not favorable options.

I have short fingernails. Every time I peel an orange, the skin beneath my nails gets overstretched, and hurts the following day. Surely there must be some Brookstone-type gadget out there that makes peeling an orange less of a pain? Looking for any tips, tricks, etc.
posted by invisible ink to Food & Drink (52 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Did you google "orange peeler"?
posted by hermitosis at 4:35 PM on April 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

use something like a letter opener to make the first pierce through the skin, then use the pad of your finger, not your nail to peel it.
posted by nadawi at 4:36 PM on April 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

Do you have a swiss army knife? I find that the can opener (not the bottle opener, the pointy can opener) works wonderfully to score the orange, making peeling with short fingernails much easier.
posted by .kobayashi. at 4:36 PM on April 27, 2010

Uh... An orange peeler?
posted by amro at 4:36 PM on April 27, 2010

Also, I've found if you can manage to pull the little "plug" at the bottom of the orange (opposite the "stem" I guess?) out of the middle with the tip of a knife or other similar pointy thing, it makes the rest a lot easier to do with your fingers. It helps in getting under the white stuff.
posted by a.steele at 4:41 PM on April 27, 2010

Oooh I hate that. You have to start it out with a knife, or if nothing else is around, your house key.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 4:41 PM on April 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I did google 'orange peeler', but considering the number of negative reviews, I was hoping I could get some further recommendations here.
posted by invisible ink at 4:42 PM on April 27, 2010

Long or short, my fingernails are too weaksauce to stand up to peeling anything. (I often even use pliers to pry up the protective paper on the mouth of the Costco milk jugs.)

As nadawi suggests, I, too, make an initial stabbing, big enough to jam my thumb into (pad-down), and then I run my thumb around the orange to loosen/rip the rest of the peel.
posted by phunniemee at 4:44 PM on April 27, 2010

Now this is an orange peeler. Tupperware orange peeler!
posted by xiaolongbao at 4:46 PM on April 27, 2010 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I did google 'orange peeler', but considering the number of negative reviews, I was hoping I could get some further recommendations here.

I'm not sure what you're talking about. Here are a bunch of orange peelers with four-star-and-up reviews.
posted by amro at 4:46 PM on April 27, 2010

Best answer: this baby (or one similar) was the bomb diggity when i was a kid, and i have longed for one for years but could never find one. until now, apparently.

we currently have a couple of these, and they work quite satisfactorily.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 4:48 PM on April 27, 2010

I had this neat little orange peeler contraption from Tupperware (unfortunately, they didn't sell it but you could get it as a host gift). I'm sure somebody somewhere has one or sells one.

On preview: Yes, what xiaolongbao said. Those things are AWESOME!
posted by 1000monkeys at 4:48 PM on April 27, 2010

I was beat by xiaolongbao! They work great, especially for grapefruit, or you could try a crochet hook if you have one. It would be cheaper to get the Tupperware multi-pack than to buy a crochet hook.
posted by jgirl at 4:49 PM on April 27, 2010

Yeah, the plastic stick orange peelers are great. Even so, I hate peeling oranges so much that I really only eat them in slices.
posted by SLC Mom at 4:50 PM on April 27, 2010

Best answer: i've got a few things like this, and they work pretty well.
posted by sdn at 4:51 PM on April 27, 2010

This post inspired me to bid on a lot of 10 orange peelers from Tupperware that my mother always had, and I loved. So if I win, would you like one?
posted by banannafish at 5:02 PM on April 27, 2010 [3 favorites]

I usually bite the orange to get it started, then dig in with my nimble little fingers.
posted by Pecinpah at 5:04 PM on April 27, 2010 [6 favorites]

Yes, there is such a thing as an orange peeler! They come in several styles, Tupperware makes one that has sort of a hook at one end to score the fruit, the other end looks like a straight slot screwdriver and is used to loosen the edge of the peel so you can get your fingertip under it. Another style has a fingerloop. Citrus is murder on fingernails.
posted by misspat at 5:06 PM on April 27, 2010

I have short fingernails and always peel oranges by hand. I usually push in a little at one of the poles until the peel breaks, and pull in apart from there. I've never had my fingers hurt after doing this.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 5:08 PM on April 27, 2010

You mention cutting it into slices isn't desirable, but what about cutting oranges period? Because until about two months ago I always peeled my oranges and then for some reason every single cookbook or cooking magazine I read (Saveur, Second Helpings of Roast Chicken, The Zuni Cafe Cookbook, The Best Recipe cookbooks' entries on salad, Claudia Roden, Marcella Hazan, Side Dishes Creative and Simple, Fields of Greens, You've Got It Made, I forget who else...a lot of sources!) was telling me all at once the best way to prep an orange is to cut it in the following way, sectioning off into wedges just as if peeled but removing all membrane and pith and keeping all the juices that wind up on the cutting board to sprinkle on top. And lo, it's my new favorite thing (I had to get past my initial unease at what seemed like wastefulness; it isn't really, since you make sure to scour out the remaining juice from what's left behind on the peel and pith). The oranges wind up tasting so much juicier, like magic. Sorry in advance if the real issue was "no knife at all" for you though.

Slice both ends off each orange, cutting just deeply enough to expose the juicy flesh. Setting the fruit on end, use a paring knife to carve away the skin and pith in a series of smooth, arcing strokes from top to bottom, rotating the orange a little with each stroke as you work your way around the sphere; then go back and trim any pith you may have missed. Next, working over a wide bowl, slide the blade of the paring knife close to the membranes on either side of each segment and gently pry out the fragile sections; don't worry if some of them break. Tease out any seeds you encounter as you go. Squeeze the remaining juice from the orange "carcasses" over the orange sections.
posted by ifjuly at 5:14 PM on April 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

I always use a spoon - jabbing it in upside down so that it runs under the skin. Works like a charm. Jab it in towards the nipple where the skin is tougher on the first thrust so as to avoid breaking into the orange meat.

how did that turn into such a sexual innuendo?
posted by kthxbi at 5:17 PM on April 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Am I the only one who just bites into the peel just until the teeth go through? Sure, you get a little spurt of sourness, but it's only tiny, and it makes an indentation that you can leverage off of to pull the rest. I never have any fingernails and it works great. Plus, you don't have to carry any equipment around.
posted by forza at 5:22 PM on April 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

Orange peelers seem like a cluttering thing to own when all you want is that initial stab into the rind to get it going and really anything will do.

Although I thought that about melon ballers and it turns out those things have a crazy number of uses.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 5:26 PM on April 27, 2010

The Tupperware peeler is little, like a pen -- or a crochet hook. I have one, my family had one. A "unitasker" but a good and small one.

My mom used to make drop cookies with a melon baller that had a lever like an ice cream scoop has.

She made cookies a lot.
posted by jgirl at 5:34 PM on April 27, 2010

What forza said--if you don't want to use a tool, use your teeth. (Personally, I like that little spurt of sourness. It makes the orange all the sweeter.)
posted by box at 5:36 PM on April 27, 2010

Best answer: Wait a minute. Maybe you can reverse this. Since all that's really needed is something that will give you an initial pierce of the skin that will allow you to get your thumb under without pulling the skin beneath your fingernail, maybe what you should do is find a Brookstone (etc.) gadget that you'd like to own anyway, buy that, and then you have your orange peeler and cool gadget.

For example, this thing, which I can't recommend often enough. It sits on your keychain and waits patiently for an annoying hangnail, a tag that needs cutting, a package that needs opening, an orange that needs peeling, and then just pffft makes your life easier.

I can't tell people often enough how having this thing on your keychain will improve your life. Until it's on your key chain, you'll never have realized how often in life you need a tiny pair of scissors.

And if you're in a terrible car accident, sinking to the bottom of a river, and your seat belt is stuck - well! - your life has been saved.

Now, that's added value.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 5:37 PM on April 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

You could probably use the tine of a fork if you don't want to get a new gadget.

The difficulty of peeling oranges has converted me to eating clementines instead. Smaller and more expensive, but the peel comes off so easily.
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:38 PM on April 27, 2010

Best answer: The gf's family has a tradition/practice of lightly scoring the surface of the orange with a paring knife. They would even do this in the morning before leaving for work, and then have the orange with lunch. I laughed at this for almost three years before trying it myself...and lo and behold, it makes things much easier! I should've known, since she's always right and all...
posted by goateebird at 5:39 PM on April 27, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone!

Bananafish - MefiMail me if you win:-)
posted by invisible ink at 5:42 PM on April 27, 2010

I am in my thirties and this is the first time I have ever heard of an orange peeler. My mind is blown. I also use forza's method of biting a piece out to start it, then using my fingers to get rid of the rest. But now I'm going to buy an orange peeler because I have to try it out.
posted by crankylex at 5:45 PM on April 27, 2010

A spoon works quite well for me. Metal ones are better than plastic but you can do it with a plastic one just fine if you hold it close enough to the edge.
posted by Kadin2048 at 5:46 PM on April 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

I pretty much have no nails whatsoever -- I trim them since I hate anything getting under them -- and I've never had any problems peeling oranges because I don't really use my nails. You just press kind of hard with your finger and you can pierce the skin.
posted by Nattie at 5:46 PM on April 27, 2010

I think the problem is that the nail bed comes up to varying lengths underneath people's fingertips. The tip of my nail and the tip of my finger are pretty much the same, which makes things like peeling a soda key-thing off a can oddly unpleasant. I think for some people it's not as oogy as for others.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 5:50 PM on April 27, 2010

Hm. I would have thought Tupperware Orange Peelers were so culturally pervasive that such a question would never need to be asked. In any case, head down to the thrift store and grab one for a $0.25.
posted by maniactown at 5:51 PM on April 27, 2010

I always peel oranges the way my grandfather always did, with a knife. I slice off both ends and then score the remaining peel into 6-8 sections with the knife. After that, the sections of peel come off very easily. Once you get used to this technique, it only takes a few seconds to peel an orange.
posted by ssg at 6:04 PM on April 27, 2010

I love the tupperware orange peelers, although I don't have one now. I bite the orange with my teeth and then peel it with my fingers, lacking the godsend that is the tupperware deal.
posted by wierdo at 6:05 PM on April 27, 2010

My husband always just uses his Swiss Army knife, and peels it like an apple.
posted by Lucinda at 6:09 PM on April 27, 2010

I use a spoon to peel oranges.
posted by belladonna at 6:45 PM on April 27, 2010

Seriously? Just get a knife and cut a piece of the skin. Peel the rest, enjoy orange.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:07 PM on April 27, 2010

I do it "backwards." Take the exact same motions and procedures you're using to start and peel the orange, but flip your finger around so that you're using the nail side of your finger, not the fleshy bit that gets fingerprinted.

The same goes for, say, scraping a sticker off the top of your desk. Instead of picking at it with your nail facing the desk so that it jams in under your fingernail, you go the other way. Place your fingerprint side down, and push along with the edge of your nail acting like a little bulldozer.

This would be, like, a billion times easier to demonstrate in person than to type. I hope I'm making sense?
posted by ErikaB at 7:24 PM on April 27, 2010

You really can find anything on YouTube. Here's one of those orange-peeler gadgets demo'd, if anyone besides me is curious.
posted by Ys at 8:00 PM on April 27, 2010

If you have a knife use a knife to make a small cut on the rind, if you don't have a knife use a fork, if you don't have a fork use a spoon, if you don't have a spoon snap the little tab thingy off of a soda can and use that, if you don't have a can of soda USE ANYTHING SHARP ENOUGH TO PIERCE THE SKIN OF AN ORANGE:

a pen cap
a penny
a dime
a key
a thumbtack
your teeth (it's a little bitter)
posted by Bonzai at 8:50 PM on April 27, 2010

Another biter here. Maybe we should form a club. Or a support group.
posted by nonliteral at 9:15 PM on April 27, 2010

I use a spoon, or cut off a tiny bit of peel with a knife. These things are much easier to find in my kitchen drawers than any special purpose gadget. Your kitchen may vary.
posted by yohko at 9:30 PM on April 27, 2010

Another nail biter here, and there's never anything sharp around when I need to break into an orange. I've found that rolling the orange vigorously and firmly between my palms for a minute or so loosens the peel from the pith, so all I have to do is jab it real hard once with whichever nail is the least bitten and the peel comes off really smoothly. I can usually peel it off all in one piece! I love when that happens!
posted by troika at 10:09 PM on April 27, 2010

This is how I do it.

1. cut off each end of the orange.
2. score the peel from end to end in 8 parts - I go through as much of the pith as possible without breaking through to the actual orange.
3. gouge out the centre of the stem end where that little "plug" is.
4. peel

I've found this method is the least bruising to the actual orange. Can't stand an orange with squishy parts if I'm peeling. Scoring is great when you're working with an orange with really thick peel.

My SO bites into it. I don't, I don't care for that bitter pithy taste even for a second.
posted by mooza at 1:23 AM on April 28, 2010

Oh damn. ssg beat me to it. But high five, dude.
posted by mooza at 1:24 AM on April 28, 2010

Take sharp paring knife, place thumbnail a few millimeters from the tip and make two cuts around the fruit with a 90ยบ twist between them. Peel w/fingers from one of the points of interesection. Scores through the skin but doesn't cut the segments.
posted by Dr.Pill at 3:46 AM on April 28, 2010

Umpteenthing the Tupperware peeler.
I would eagerly poke this thing in St.Alton's eye, were he to go into yet another unitasker rant in my presence.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:21 AM on April 28, 2010

Everyone here is wrong! Wrong!! Enzymatic peeling hell yes!
posted by raf at 7:03 AM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

I like a very blunt plastic (but strong) short knife for peeling oranges because my nails break if you look at them hard.
posted by meepmeow at 12:02 PM on April 28, 2010

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