Mandarins are citrus fruits that look like small oranges. Mandarins come in several varieties and are often called Clemetines or tangerines. They are sometimes called zipper fruit, because their thin, loose skins can easily be pulled off from the juicy sections. These cold-hardy fruits are high in Vitamins A and C. They are also rich in thiamin, calcium and potassium. The easy-peeling mandarins are popular snacks and lunchbox treats. Mandarin fruit adds taste and texture to salads, teriyaki, fruit dishes and marinades.
The mandarin harvest begins just before the autumn frost and usually lasts through the early winter months. These sweet citrus are sold individually, by the bag, in a box or as a lug of fruit. At harvest festivals, mandarin orchards and farmer's markets, they are sold in bulk bags or boxes. Here are tips for storing the healthy, handy mandarin.
Start with ripe mandarins. Their skins should be yellow or orange. Ripe mandarins are round or ovate, with clean stem ends and no splits in the outer peel.
Handle the fruit carefully. Mandarins have thin skin that is easily damaged or punctured. They are highly perishable, and do not keep as long as oranges.
Sort the mandarins and discard any that are moldy or split open. Set aside any that feel soft or are a bit bruised. Use these first, as they are likely to spoil quickly. Chop them up and add them to recipes in place of oranges for a quick, sweet/tangy citrus flavor.
Keep a bowl of mandarins handy for snacking. They are a quick energy snack. For a fast dessert, peel a mandarin and pull the sections apart. Drop them in a bowl and drizzle with chocolate syrup, or serve them with dessert dipping sauce.
Store the mandarins in a cool place for up to 1 week. Bulk mandarins are often kept in a garage or pantry, where temperatures range from 60 to 70 degrees. They are stored without washing in the bag or box.
Refrigerate mandarins that are not used within a week or two. The flavor may change slightly, but the fruit will stay fresh for another week or more. Check them periodically for spoilage.
Use mandarins as snacks for children. They are easy to peel and break into even segments without kitchen tools.
Add mandarin juice to BBQ sauce, sweet desserts and baked muffins.
Most mandarins are seedless. Some tangerines, however, have seeds. Check for seeds before you feed mandarin segments to young children.