Gastronomy 101, a blog about food and Los Angeles restaurants

INFO: Mandarins 101

Gold Nugget Mandarins with Cinnamon Honey

It may not be the holidays anymore, but it's still mandarin season. Mandarin oranges, or tangerines had their start in India and China at least 3,000 years ago. They are called "mandarin" oranges after China. In the 16th century, the satsuma, which is the Japanese version, made its appearance. And in the 19th century we get the Mediterranean cousin, which is where the name "tangerine" comes from (Tangiers, Morocco).

Mandarins are a loose-peeled orange variety that can be sweet or tart, seeded or seedless, small or large. They are smaller and flatter than an orange and their peel is often easier to get off. They are extremely juicy with a fragrant aroma that is both fruity and a little herbal. Satsumas are the easiest to eat, having a peel that rips right off and being seedless.

Mandarins are a winter fruit and different varieties come into season throughout the winter and spring, generally from November to June. Now in season are Page and Gold Nugget varieties. The Page is a cross between a clementine and a tangelo. It's harder to peel than a satsuma and may have seeds, but has an intense fruit flavor. The Gold Nugget mandarin was developed years ago but only recently released by the University of California. It's seedless and has a good flavor. It's season lasts until July, which brings us to now half the year for enjoying little tiny yummy oranges.

Other varieties are:

  • Clementine: Thin-skinned, tangy sweet and seedless. Produced in Spain and North Africa and found in specialty produce markets.
  • Dancy: Similar to clementines but with lots of seeds.
  • Satsuma: Japanese and almost all seedless. Most canned mandarins are satsumas.
  • Tangerine: The most common mandarin in the U.S. Thick skinned and sweet.
You can do all kinds of things with tangerines, but I like to just eat them either plain or with a little honey, or if I have enough, squeezed for juice. They are so sweet and juicy that nothing needs to be added and they don't really need to be changed at all.


On Food and Cooking, Harold McGee
Food Lover's Companion, Sharon Tyler Herbst
"Fleeting first tastes of spring," Russ Parsons, Los Angeles Times, March 7, 2007
Garden Compass, Jan./Feb. 2003


clementines remind me of NY and law school. you could buy crates of them (I'd never seen this before, though I have since seen crates of clementines at Ralph's.)

My point is: I was walking home from school my 1L year (i.e. before I met Dave), and a truly hot boy from my class was sitting on the steps of the brownstone next door. He gave me a clementine from the crate he had just purchased. and then I hooked up with him at a party the following weekend.


said by Vaguely Urban at 10:24 PM Delete

Well, how could you NOT? Hotness and a free clementine? You had no choice.

said by KT at 10:27 PM Delete

I wonder where I can get my hands on some Gold Nuggets.

My grandparents own some truly impressive Satsuma orchards in Taiwan. We used to have baskets of the things all over the place.

said by Chubbypanda at 3:07 PM Delete

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