Exactly what/where is the "Pith"?

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Mar 29, 2009
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I'm confused! All recipes that involve citrus stress that no "Pith" should be on the peel when you use it. I made some grapefruit wine and was not sure exactly what was the pith. Is it immediately below the very thin layer of color on the exterior of the peel, or is it the more thick outer coating of the fruit after peeling? I can't find this defined anywhere else, so I thought to ask the experts.

After you peel it, it is the thin white "skin" left on the fruit itself. I made a batch of orange cranberry a couple months ago and didn't remove it. It was quite bitter. If I had of removed the pith this would have turned out great. It fermented but not removing it was a significant difference between a great wine and a wine that was close to the sink drain.

I don't know when I'll beable to find a good deal on a case of oranges again, but looking past the off flavor because of the pith, it was destined to be quite good.. I hope I have an opportunity to try it again.

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That is what I was thinking it was. So if I use a sharp knife and slice a thin layer of peel of the outside, then I would be ok to use that peel?

That is if the recipe call for zest or peel?

Also, be sure you use Pectin Enzyme, it is necessary to help all the pulp break down and also to help eliminate cloudiness down the road.
I don't know about using any of the peel, the recipe I used said to remove the peel, which I did, on all 36 of them, it didn't mention slicing the thin layer of pith off. (from the fruit itself) I learned this after I had ran all of them through the cuisinart and had it fermenting. Learned the hard way on that one.

You can use the outside peel to make "candied" rind Oranges or G Fruit. Simply boil it in sugar water, drain, do it again, toss it in sugar. it is quite good. You can Google for a recipe for it.
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Arcticsid is right on with the info, if the recipe calls for peels or zest do not include the pith, if the recipe calls fro fruit, then omit both te pith and the peel unless you want to doctor it up a little and maybe play with some peel. The pith will make it bitter fast.
the peel is also called 'zest' in some recipes.. what you are aiming for is the coloured outer of the citrus which contains the flavour and natural oils of the fruit, without the bitter white underneath. Go into any kitchenware shop and you can buy a 'citrus zester' they look like this..


Arcticsid, thanks for the replies! The recipe I use did call for pectic enzyme and one of the 6 grapefruits peeled thinly. I also added a can of frozen white grape concentrate which was not called for in the recipe....sounded good at the time. I started it 1/5/09 with S.G. of 1.090, used Red Star Montrachet yeast, and it has cleared nicely, is at least pallatable now, but has a STRONG grapefruit flavor. Will that strong grapefruit flavor tame down with time?

That one I can't answer tony, I let my orange wine in the secondary for about 3 weeks and it was still biteer as hell, I racked it once more added some sugar, froze it overnight and gave it to the neighbor, heliked it, but then again, he had been out of alcohol for several weeks. :) I have heard other in here mention grapefruit wine, i am sure someone will chime in and instruct/advise you further.
Everything should tame down over time, how much though I cant tell you! Sweetening it up would also help it if you like sweet or semi sweet wine.
I have my first batch of grapefruit going right now. The recipe also called to remove the pith. As my mom brought them back from Florida from a neighbor's tree, they are not the perfect commercial looking ones. I attempted to use that particular zester on them and the skin is too thin and it gives when you try and zest it. I ended up having my wife scrape the peelings with a paring knife and still couldn't get it all, Try one of those vegetable graters with the 3 sides to them.
I know what you went through kiljoy, I also try the paring knife to no avail.

Thanks again to all who replied with all the great advice and help!