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Tangerines & other mandarins

Why Eat It
Varieties
Shopping
Storage
Preparation


Why Eat It

This term is used to refer to the group of citrus fruits that have a loose, easily peeled "zipper" skin with red undertones. The carpels, or sections, of mandarins separate more easily than those of oranges.

Varieties

Those you're most likely to find in the market are:

Clementine: Also called Algerian tangerines, these small, sweet-tasting fruits are seedless. The membranes covering the carpels are thinner than in other tangerines, and the texture of the fruit is very delicate. Most clementines are imported from North Africa and Spain. Season: November through April.

Tangelo: This fruit is the result of a cross between a tangerine and a grapefruit or pomelo (a large citrus fruit that is related to the grapefruit); the name is a combination of tangerine and pomelo. Tangelos look like large oranges; the most popular variety, Minneola, has a distinct knoblike projection on the stem end. Although they are closer to tangerines than to grapefruits in flavor, they have a taste all their own. Season: November through February.

Tangerine: The names mandarin and tangerine are often used interchangeably in the United States, but a tangerine is actually a subgroup of mandarin orange. The flavor is distinctive and slightly tart. Tangerines are somewhat flat at the ends and have deep orange, loose-fitting, pebbly skin. Honey tangerines, which were originally called Murcotts, have deep orange flesh, but their skins are more green than orange. They are very sweet, as their name suggests. Season: November through January.

Temple: Sometimes also called a Royal mandarin, this fruit is a tangor, which is a cross between a tangerine and an orange. Temples resemble overgrown tangerines and have many seeds. They are very sweet and juicy, and their flavor is similar to that of an orange. Season: January through March.

Shopping

The different varieties of mandarins will be at their best during the midpoint of their growing seasons (noted above). Mandarins, with their loose-fitting skins, will feel soft and puffy compared to oranges, but should be heavy for their size; otherwise, they are likely to be pithy and dry. Choose fruits with glossy, deep orange skins, but disregard small green patches near the stems.

Storage

Tangerines and other mandarins should be refrigerated; they will keep for just a few days.

Preparation

Tangerines and other mandarins peel easily if you insert your finger into the opening and pull back the peel.

To prepare mandarins for use in fruit salad or cooked dishes, peel the fruit, separate the segments, and then pull off the membrane from each segment, if desired. Remove and discard the pits, which may be many or few depending on the variety.


Date Published: 04/21/2005
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