Hi, we’re so glad you dropped by. Before we get to know each other better, we’d like to clear one thing up. Our name. Now, some of you may call us tangerines, but that’s OK by us. Mandarins or tangerines, we don’t mind – both names reflect our colourful and interesting past. You see we belong to the citrus family and grew in China a very long time ago. We were so highly regarded that we were named after the officials of the Imperial Court, the mandarins – that’s how we got our first name.
Our popularity was so great that visitors to China always took our seeds home with them and so we spread both east to Japan and the Philippines and west through India, Arabia and North Africa. We were imported into Europe through Tangiers in Morocco and so Europeans began to call us Tangerines and that’s how we came by our second name. See, quite logical really.
We’re like small oranges which are flattened at the top and bottom. Our skin is a deep orange colour, soft, glossy, often smooth and it peels away easily from our flesh. Inside, we’re divided into distinct, crescent-shaped segments which break away from each other. Each segment is enclosed in a fine membrane which holds the soft, juicy, flesh together. Some mandarins are seeded, others are seedless.
We’re available from March to November with our best value being from May to August.
Did you know?
• Two small mandarins will supply 35% of the daily recommended allowance of Vitamin C
• We’re low in kilojoules
• Eaten raw we’re one of the important cleansing fruits
• We’re sometimes crossed with grapefruit to produce tangelos.
We’re sold by variety and the most important Australian varieties are:
We’re an early season mandarin with fine, smooth, glossy, orange skin enclosing sweet, orange coloured flesh with several seeds.
We’re a medium to large seeded mandarin with a deep orange skin which is easy to peel. Our flesh is orange and has a good, sweet, rich flavour.
|Murcott or Honey Tangerine
We’re an older, medium-sized, seeded variety, yellowish-orange in colour, with a smooth, glossy skin. Our skin is very thin and tight enclosing orange flesh which is juicy and sweet with a distinctive taste.
Why Mandarins Are Good To Eat
• We’re high in vitamin C (48-58 mg per 100g – which is more than a day’s supply)
• We’re a source of dietary fibre.
• We have about 8g of natural sugars per 100g, so we’re sweetly delicious.
• 100g of mandarin flesh has 190kJ.
How They are Grown and Harvested
We grow on trees, which tend to be slightly smaller than other citrus trees. Our parent plant is spiny, small and evergreen with glossy-green leaves and white fragrant flowers. During the first four years of its life it bears very little fruit and it doesn’t reach maturity until about 12 years old.
We can grow in a wide range of climates but prefer warm temperatures as really cold weather can damage us due to our small size and thin skin. In very hot weather we may also become sunburnt.
Unlike other citrus fruit, which can be harvested all year round, we’re only harvested in late autumn and winter. We’re picked carefully by hand when we’re ripe as we’re difficult to harvest without our skins being bruised or damaged.
Select those of us which are glossy and heavy for our size – this indicates good juice content.
How to Keep Mandarins
Refrigerate us in the crisper section for up to 7 days.
Prime Growing Areas
History of Mandarins
We have been cultivated in China for several thousands of years and have spread throughout much of south-east Asia and India. The Japanese were cultivating us as long ago as the 10th century.
It wasn’t until late in the 17th century that we appeared in England. Being very adaptable, we are now grown in many different countries around the world.
Fun Ways to Eat and Cook Mandarins
We’re a real convenience food, great for school lunches, snacks and picnics. We’re easier to peel than oranges and our segments separate easily. Just spit the pips out or remove before using segments in fruit salads, muffins, cheesecakes, ice cream, savoury salads or with meat.
Zest or grated mandarin skin, without any white membrane, can be added to dishes for extra flavour.
Here are a few mandarin ideas to try:
Chocolate Crepes With Mandarins
Whisk 2 eggs with 2 tablespoons sugar in large jug. Beat in 1/2 cup plain flour and 1 tablespoon cocoa powder alternatively with 1 cup milk until smooth. Cover and stand 30 minutes. Melt 150g dark chocolate, 2/3 cup cream and 1 teaspoon mandarin zest. Cook crepes in greased pan. Mix 3/4 cup sour cream with peeled mandarin segments. Spoon onto pancakes, roll up and serve.
Mandarin Marshmallow Kebabs
Thread peeled mandarin segments onto bamboo skewers alternatively with peeled kiwifruit pieces and marshmallows. Puree strawberries and season with honey to taste. Pour over kebabs and serve. For a creamier texture stir in strawberry yoghurt.
Mandarin And Chicken Salad
Mix 1/4 cup each marsala and mandarin juice, 1 teaspoon each salt reduced soy sauce, grated mandarin rind and grated ginger and marinate 4 chicken breasts for 2 hours. Bake chicken, covered, in moderate oven for 20 minutes or until tender. Cool. Serve with mandarin segments, sliced nectarine and lettuce. Mix 1/4 cup each of yoghurt, sour cream and mandarin juice with fresh mint and drizzle on top with pecans