• Narelle

Pith Off?

The other day I watched someone meticulously peel every piece of pith from her orange until there was nothing white remaining. Nothing left! Which made me consider delving into the complex and perhaps divisive question - should we “pith off” or “pith on”.

Pith is the spongy white tissue lining the rind of oranges, lemons and other citrus fruits. To many people it is also annoying. Most people strip it away. Some people carefully and delicately peel it off. Many use the excuse that it is bitter to avoid eating it.

But is it bitter? Or is that just a bitter pith myth?

Robert Walker (The Washington Post) destroyed this myth in a not very scientific experiment. He basically tasted pith and found that although grapefruit pith was quite bitter with an unpleasant after taste, lemon piths were only mildly bitter and orange piths were tasteless. All the piths were a bit chewy.

Pith is not only bitter but packs in a nutritional punch.

It is high in fibre. In fact orange as a fruit is only rich in fibre if you eat the pith as well.

It contains a form of fibre called pectin which also is only found in the pith of citrus. Pectin is useful for cholesterol control and diarrhoea control.

It contains as much Vitamin C as the fruit itself so essentially if you eat the fruit and the pith you are doubling your Vitamin C intake.

It is high in flavonoids. Flavonoids help explain why eating fruit and vegetables are so beneficial for us. They help regulate cellular activity and fight off free radicals that cause oxidative stress on your body. Some flavonoids in oranges include Hesperidin (blood vessel health and inflammation), Naringenin (antioxidant and anti inflammatory and may reduce carbohydrates absorbed from the intestinal tract possibly reducing rises in blood sugar levels) and d-limonene the substance which gives citrus its smell and helps with high cholesterol and indigestion.

SO I think the vote should be “Pith on”. It doesn’t really affect the taste and is jam packed with nutrition. And for all those shouting at me to “Pith off” I say try not be so bitter about it - pith isn’t!