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Mandarins: Kiyomi »« Limes

Mandarins Encore

Citrus reticulata


Description

Mandarins are an ideal fruit for children’s lunchboxes, with their loose, easily-peeled skin, the individual segments that were perfectly designed for little hands, and the sweet juicy flesh.

The names ‘mandarin’ and ‘tangerine’ are often used interchangeably: technically, though, a tangerine is a particular variety of mandarin, and in New Zealand ‘mandarin’ is the much more commonly used name.

Mandarins are small citrus fruits, about half the size of an orange and a less sour or tart flavour. Along with pomelos and citrons, they’re one of the three original species of citrus from which all other citrus fruits are derived.

Mandarins are a great source of vitamin C and contain a good helping of vitamin A, along with iron, fibre, and calcium.

Look for plump mandarins with a glossy skin. They can dry out quickly, so buy ones that are heavy for their size, which indicates there’s plenty of juice. Leave behind any with overly puffy skin, as this means they’re probably overripe. Store them in the fridge for up to 10 days, or at room temperature for about a week.

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History

Mandarins are native to China, and have been cultivated there for thousands of years. They were once reserved exclusively for the privileged classes, or Mandarins, which may be where their name comes from.

Uses

Apart from being an easy snack, mandarins have a flavour of their own that’s very distinct from that of oranges. They’re more fragrant, so for an interesting change try substituting mandarin juice and zest for orange. You’ll need 2-3 mandarins for every orange listed in the recipe. Or even try substituting mandarin for lemon – take your favourite lemon cheesecake recipe and make a mandarin cheesecake instead, but remember that mandarins are sweeter than lemons so you may want to adjust the amount of sugar.

Mandarins also work well in sweet-and-sour sauces.

Facts

Tangerines, or mandarins, are sometimes called the ‘Christmas orange’ in the northern hemisphere, for the tradition of putting one in the toe of children’s Christmas stockings.



Mandarins: Kiyomi »« Limes

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