Tangerines or mandarin oranges have been gracing tables for decades. Now they're becoming s star player with different varieties shining in desserts and snacks. It's no wonder. There's nothing like the sweet, sunshine taste of these tasty globes.
New writer, David Karp, wrote about them for yesterday's New York Times Food section.Mandarins are making a big comeback on American tables (although they never really left)/ Most are being grown in California's San Joaquin Valley, in the middle of the state. California harvests a whopping 92 per cent of the harvest while Florida contributes only 8 percent. It used to be the top producer with 66 percent however crops have been previously plagued by citrus greening disease,a crippling virus that changes the color.along with obsolete seeds.Despite this , mandarins are the most popular fruit in the US with Americans consuming five pounds of them a year..Oranges on the other hand have gone down in popularity.We have Spain to thanks for the boom along with our desire for easy to eat fruits. The first started to export seedless clementines in the 1970's to the Eastern US. Factor in our desire for snackable produce such as seedless grapes and blueberries and you have the explanation for the popularity . Two companies also jumped on this Sun Pacific and Wonderful Citrus, formerly Paramount Citrus, giving the fruit consumer grabbing names such as Cuties and Halos. (watch their commercials - you'll be craving them in no time).
Mandarins are worth their difficult cultivation. These ancient cultivars are as difficult to raise as grapes, in their terroirs or environments and sturdiness. At their best they have a juicy tartly sweet flavor but what stores sell are sometimes tasteless and bland. Shoppers should look for the Daisy SL variety These have intensely sweet tart flesh along with a complex , lingering aroma. Its rind is silk smooth and easily to peel off.Unfortunately the types with seeds are coming back, rendering them useless to sellers.A fierce competitor is the Japanese Dekepon or as it;s known here the Sumo. It's one of the most expensive mandarins.It is larger than the average one, with pebbly skin and a distinctive bump at the top .It's very easy to de-rind and intensely sweet but is balanced by a refreshing acidity.It is also anywhere from four to seven dollars a pound and is sold in the pricier groceries such as Whole Foods and Wegmans. There is also a hybrid out there called Ruby Tango whose parentage is a Sicilian clementine and a blood orange. It's coming out for the first time around Valentine's Day by Sunwest Fruit Whole Foods , Fairway and Fresh Direct will be selling them. Parents will love the Seedless Kishu, a golfball sized one that's easily peelable for little hands. The juiciest fruits should have been cultivated by from November to mid January in a Mediterranean kind of climate. The season ends in mid May with Gold Nugget, another sweet and seedless variety.
Mandarins are a delicious burst of sunshine in a dull winter landscape. Indulge in the rich Sumo or have a few Seedless Kishus with the kids. Any choice is a good choice, All have a sweetness mingled with tartness and are fun to eat.