Season for Tangerines October - April
Tangerine Dream may be your favorite band, but we think the real stuff of a fresh tangerine is what dreams are really made of. This citrus fruit belonging to the mandarin family is generally round and about 2 1/2 inches in diameter with a fragrant orange to orange-red rind that is thin and loose on the fruit. Hence, it peels very easily. Tangerines are the most popular type of mandarins found in the US. 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 Tangerines
Choose your tangerines not necessarily for their color, but for the way they feel in your hands. Choose those that are heavy for their size (an indicator of juiciness). Good tangerines will be firm to slightly soft with pebbly skin that has no deep grooves. Avoid any that have broken skin, soft spots or show signs of mold. Store your fresh tangerines 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 Tangerines
It's hard to beat a tangerine when eaten fresh, out of hand as a snack or dessert. But, tangerine segments make a great addition to fruit and vegetable salads and an attractive, natural garnish for cakes and other confections. Tangerine juice can be made into a sorbet, and can also be substituted for orange juice in various recipes, making delicious marinades, marmalades and dressings alike. Tangerine juice poured over freshly sliced fruit helps to keep it from turning brown and adds great flavor.
Health Benefits of Tangerines
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 - including tangerines - 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 attributable to the carotenoids which give tangerines their color.
Why Buy Natural and Organic Tangerines
Unfortunately, most of the tangerines you'll find in US grocery stores are canned (fortunately, less so as they grow in popularity). Canned tangerine segments are peeled using a chemical process, and more often than not, 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 tangerines that you can find in season and at your farmers market are incomparable in taste anyhow.