Season for Mandarins November – June

Mandarins Described

This is a glorious citrus group that includes some our favorite little snacks – such as the clementine, dancy, satsuma and tangerine. What do these citrus fruits characterized as mandarins share? They all have a characteristic thin, easily removed skin and readily dividable segments. They can be sweet or tart, seedless or not and can range in size from teeny tiny to grapefruit-like. When compared to an orange, the flesh of mandarins is often juicier and sweeter and the skin much thinner. 

Keep in mind that the terms “mandarin orange” and “tangerine” are sometimes used interchangably; although a tangerine is a mandarin orange, not all mandarin oranges are tangerines.

How to Buy and Store Mandarins

Whatever type of mandarin you are in the market for, choose those that are brightly, deeply and uniformly colored and those that feel heavy for their size (an indicator of juiciness). Also, keep in mind that your mandarins can be softer to the touch than your oranges. Avoid any that have broken skin, soft spots or show signs of mold. Store your fresh mandarins at room temperature in a fruit bowl, where they will last about a week. A cool, dark place or your refrigerator will extend their shelf life up to another week.

How to Cook Mandarins

Mandarins are best out of hand, as nature intended. You can eat them as is or segment them into fruit or vegetable salads. Getting creative with mandarins is an option too! Consider juicing them and combining the juice with lemon juice to make a tangerine sorbet or iced mandarin soufflé. Or how about trying one of our Herb Infused Winter Cocktails like a Minty Clementine-Infused Vodka.

Health Benefits of Mandarins

Citrus fruits pack over 170 different phytonutrients and more than 60 flavonoids, many of which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-tumor and blood clot inhibiting properties, as well as strong antioxidant effects in the body. Two studies in Japan have found that eating mandarin oranges significantly reduces the risk of liver cancer, though we suspect these orange bursts lend a hand to staving off many other types of cancer too. The protective effect may be partly attributalbe to the carotenoids which give mandarins their color.

Why Buy Natural and Organic Mandarins

Unfortunately, most of the mandarins you’ll find in US grocery stores are canned. Canned mandarin segments are peeled using a chemical process and often times a sweetening syrup is added. Additionally, the canning process uses BPA (or Bisphenol A), a chemical that has proven toxic. So, we say, stay away! The fresh, organic mandarins that you can find in season and at your farmers market are incomparable in taste anyhow. 

image: kaibara87