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Cal­i­for­nia cit­rus vari­eties are so worth the mar­ket­ing hype. Navel oranges in par­tic­u­lar have been the stead­fast fruit we’ve come to rely on for healthy win­ter snack­ing.

Out­side the navel mar­gins are so many juicy cit­rus hand fruits that excite the food world.

Sat­suma man­darins are a Cal­i­for­nia lovely. Believe it or not, they may have first arrived here 700 years ago from Japan via Jesuits who planted them on the banks of the Mis­sis­sippi River in New Orleans.

Grow­ers in the Golden State took it from there. This loose-​skinned, sub-​acid fruit has a zip­per peel and is seed­less. What more can one ask for except the minia­ture size is per­fect for sin­gle serve snack­ing.

Com­pared to oranges in gen­eral, man­darins tend to be smaller in size, have a looser peel, and are less tart. They orig­i­nated in the Far East and were orig­i­nally exported through North Africa, where they were all tagged with the name “tan­ger­ine,” from the city of Tang­iers.

The name “tan­ger­ine” has become less generic and is now usu­ally applied to only one kind of man­darin orange. Retail­ers have come to mar­ket the dif­fer­ent cul­ti­vars by so called brand names. While all tan­ger­ines are man­darins, not all man­darins are tangerines.
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Clemen­tines, by exam­ple, are a hybrid of man­darin oranges and a sweet orange. We see them “mar­keted” under names of Halos, Cuties, Peelz, and many oth­ers. Still, mostly a seed­less tan­ger­ine.
Back to the jewel of man­darins — Sat­sumas have a red-​orange juice and ten­der flesh. Each sec­tion bursts with per­fumed fla­vor. Their sen­sual seg­ments are not to be care­lessly han­dled nor mind­lessly con­sumed.

Treat each one as an expe­ri­ence in enjoy­ment and eat­ing plea­sure. Taste the years of devo­tion in cul­ti­va­tion. Farm­ers hand har­vest each man­darin after a sea­son of care.

From Novem­ber to Jan­u­ary, depend­ing on cli­mate, Sat­sumas ripen and are then care­fully hand picked. The juice is clev­erly being infused in drinks from beers to min­eral waters and oils and syrups.

The sweet flesh is being used for mar­malades and mari­nades. Fresh out of hand eat­ing is a guilt­less plea­sure wel­comed on a cold win­tery day.

The dis­tinc­tive orange glow of man­darin trees is a delight­ful sight in any of the regional Cal­i­for­nia groves. Like dec­o­rated hol­i­day trees, the best part of these is that we get to eat the orna­ments. Sat­suma Man­darins, nature’s edi­ble gift.

To read the full Mar­ket Report, includ­ing this week’s mar­ket update, see below or click here.