Mandarins

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The mandarin orange resembles kumquats and at first glance, it’s easy to mistake one for other. But that’s where all the similarities end. Kumquats have edible skin while mandarins don’t. Mandarins are extremely easy to peel because of their “loose” skin. Compared to oranges, mandarins are extremely sweet with only a bit of tartness to it. Mandarin oranges are also one of the few citrus (or possibly only) fruits that are sold canned and peeled.

  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Order: Sapindales
  • Family: Rutaceae
  • Genus: Citrus
  • Species: C. reticulata
  • Binomial name: Citrus reticulata

Mandarin Trivia

  • Mandarin orange peel is used in its dried form in China to enhance digestion.
  • The name “Mandarin” comes from the bright orange robes worn by ancient public officials in China.
  • The Sumo Citrus, which is reported to be the sweetest in the world, is a hybrid between an orange and a mandarin.
  • During Chinese New Year, mandarin oranges are considered to be a sign of good fortune.

Mandarin Buying Guide

As with any citrus fruit, or any other fruit for that matter, look for mandarin oranges that feel heavy for their size. The color should be deep orange and avoid fruit with light shades or with green patches, these are still underripe and can tend to be sour.

Avoid mandarin oranges that have soft spots, large blemishes, or any visible damage. Mold is also something to look out for, so if you spot any mold, try and look another batch of mandarins.

Mandarin Production & Farming in Texas

Mandarins are some of the most cold-resistant citrus plants which makes them attractive for commercial growers in Texas to grow. Just recently, Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service horticulturists have named a new hybrid based on the Satsuma variant as a “Texas Superstar” plant. The Arctic Frost Satsuma is a hybrid of the Satsuma variant and the Changsha variant.

Most cold-hardy variants like the Changsha have fruit that’s not regarded as delicious and are usually grown as ornamentals, and Satsumas, while cold-hardy, have some trouble growing outside of sheltered locations. Taking the best of both variants, the Arctic Frost is the most cold-hardy variant of mandarin oranges to date, but it has the quality and sweetness of the Satsumas.

If they’re in season, a lot of farms offer pick your own mandarin oranges for a small fee, not only will you get the freshest mandarins, but you’ll also be helping local farmers as well. Most of the Texas crop also makes its way to local markets and Farmers’ markets.

Pesticides:

Mandarins, like most citrus fruits, have shown to have a lot of pesticide residues on their peels. They have also tested positive for post-harvest chemicals that are used to protect the mandarins from degrading too much during transport and storage.

The Arctic Frost, which has been named as a “Texas Superstar” is perfect for growing without the use of pesticides and recommended for “Earth-Kind” landscaping.

If you have a choice between commercially grown or imported mandarins vs organically grown mandarins, then the choice is obvious.

Geography:

To grow Arctic Frost Satsuma mandarins or any of the other cold-hardy variants, you should be at least in the USDA Hardiness zone 9 or higher. Below 9, special freeze protection is required and may entail extra costs. The mandarin plan requires full sun or at least 8 to 10 hours per day at the minimum. The pH of the soil should range between 5.5-6.5 and it should be well-drained as the roots are susceptible to rot if left in standing water.

Packaging:

Mandarin oranges are usually packed by weight in webbing/net bags. For larger retailers, mandarin oranges are packed in bulk boxes and are sold by piece or by weight.

Mandarin oranges are also processed and sold inside cans. To can them, the mandarin oranges peeled via a chemical process that involves lye to melt away the membranes and the pith before being canned in water, light syrup, or heavy syrup.

Eating Mandarins

Mandarin oranges are the easiest citrus fruit to peel. Since their skin is already “loose” it can be peeled by ripping the skin off at the point where the fruit was connected to the stem. After that, depending on the size of the fruit, the flesh, and the pit can be consumed. Just be careful to look out for seeds.

Storage:

Mandarin oranges can be stored at room temperature for up to two weeks before they start to dry out. A plus side of storing them on the countertop on display is that people would be tempted to pick them up and snack on them.

In the fridge, mandarin oranges can last for up to a month. Just make sure that they aren’t too crowded and check up on them once in a while to make sure that there isn’t any mold growth. If you do find any mold growth, remove the moldy pieces to prevent the other fruits from getting moldy as well.

Cooking:

Mandarin oranges are best added to dishes in their fresh form. They can be added to almost any dish that needs a fresh fruit touch to it, like tarts, salads, salsas, and tacos. Due to its sweetness, the mandarin orange is rarely used in heated application aside from being used as garnishes on the finished dish.

Nutrition:

  • Carbs
    • The carbs from mandarin oranges come from healthy natural sugars, which makes them an excellent snack to help fulfill your sweet tooth cravings.
    • The mandarin orange also has a pretty low glycemic load at 3, so people with diabetes can enjoy this fruit without worrying too much about their blood sugar levels spiking up.
  • Fiber
    • A serving of mandarin oranges contains about 5% of the RDI of fiber, and we know that because of their sweetness, you can’t have just one mandarin orange so you’ll be consuming a lot of fiber per sitting.
      • Consuming dietary fiber helps regulate bowel movement and eases the symptoms of constipation.
      • The dietary fiber in mandarin oranges also helps slow down digestion, making you feel “fuller” longer and may help reduce overeating.
    • Vitamins and minerals:
      • A serving of mandarin oranges provides a third of the RDI of Vitamin C.
        • Vitamin C is a good antioxidant that blocks cell damage caused by oxidative stress by free radicals.
        • Antioxidants also reduce and prevent inflammation.
        • Scientists have suggested that antioxidants like Vitamin C help reduce oxidative stress caused by free radicals in people with inflammatory conditions and type 2 diabetes.
      • Research has shown that citrus fruits like mandarin oranges have secondary metabolites like limonoids, flavonoids, and coumarins, that are associated with a reduced risk of certain types of cancer.

When Are Mandarins in Season in Texas?

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  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • September
  • Oktober
  • November
  • December

One of the most salient benefits to eating seasonally is that you are effectively reducing your carbon footprint and supporting a more geographically sustainable food economy. We are rarely encouraged to think about the physical lengths our food travels before arriving on the market shelves. And all of this travel comes with a hefty environmental cost that is concealed from the consumer’s eye. Check other fruit and veg that’s in season in Texas.

Buy Local Farmfresh Mandarins in Texas Directly from the Producer