Going Mad for Mandarin Oranges
Happy National Nutrition Month!! I can’t decide if it was the 5 years I studied nutrition or the batch of white chocolate chip cookies I made at midnight last night (and subsequently ate four of) that has me really excited for an over-the-top healthy month. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has proclaimed the slogan of this month, “savor the flavor of eating right”. What does that mean? Well for the next two weeks here on the blog it’s going to mean EAT ALL THE MANDARIN ORANGES!
These sweet little juice bombs are a gift from nature, and we’re about to give them the appreciation they deserve. Read on for all the juicy deets you need to know about mandarins, and stick around for a citrus-wonderland of recipes in the coming days.
So what are mandarin oranges?
Mandarin oranges are a small, loose-skinned variety of the common orange, typically sweeter and less acidic than the larger oranges. Thought to have originated in India, they travelled across China where they picked up the name “mandarin”. They made their way to England and Euro-tripped it down to Italy, eventually making it to the Moroccan port of Tangier, where they garnered another name, “tangerine”.
Variations of mandarin oranges
Are mandarins and clementines the same thing? In short, sort of! Mandarin oranges are a smaller descendent or the common orange. Because mandarins are easily crossed with other varieties of citrus and can grow in a number of climates, many varieties of mandarins have been created…around 200! Here are the most popular varieties of mandarin oranges:
- Clementines: This sweet variety is usually seedless and easy to peel, making it great for kids. Brands like “Cuties” or “Sweeties” commonly use clementines (but…fun fact! As different varieties go in and out of season, these brands will swap which kinds of mandarins they include in the packs)
- Tangerines: Though “tangerine” was originally just another word for the fruit “mandarin”, the term “tangerine” has begun to take on another meaning. What we call tangerines in the U.S. are commonly more tart and have a deeper orange/red color than the common mandarin. Varieties of tangerine include Darby and Fairchild.
- Satsuma: This is a seedless variety originating in Japan. The tree is more tolerant to cold, so you’ll find these in colder climates. This variety has a thick but delicate skin, meaning it’s quick to peel but bruises easily, making it great for either eating locally or canning for shipment.
How to select and store mandarin oranges
- Select: You’ll find a variety of mandarins are in season from November to April. Choose fruits that are heavy for their size and unblemished.
- Store: Store mandarins in a cool, dark place (like the fridge). At room temperature they’ll last about 1 week. Refrigerated in a bag they should last 2 weeks to 1 month.
Mandarin Orange Recipes
- Healthy Orange Dreamsicle Smoothie
- Orange Chia Seed Breakfast Pudding
- 15 Minute Buddha Bowls
- Cranberry Orange Sweet Rolls
Nutrition information for mandarin oranges
per 1 large (120 g) mandarin orange
- Calories: 64
- Carbohydrates: 16 g
- Fiber: 2 g, 9% of Daily Value (DV)
- Protein: 1 g
- Fat: 0 g
- 53% DV of Vitamin C: A water-soluble vitamin that acts as an antioxidant to fight against potentially damaging free radicals (molecules with unshared electrons that float around wreaking havoc) and an important cofactor in collagen synthesis.
- 16% DV of Vitamin A: Provides the provitamin version of this fat-soluble vitamin, meaning it comes from a plant source and your body converts the plant pigment into active Vitamin A. It is essential in many components of healthy vision, as well as immunity and cell growth/differentiation.
- 6% DV of Potassium: A key mineral and electrolyte involved in countless processes, including healthy nervous system functioning and contraction of the heart and muscles.