Hi, I’m Chef Dan, and one of the questions I get asked all the time is: “What is the difference between a Mandarin and an orange?”
Well, there’s a few differences
They’re both in the citrus family, and they both have that wonderful bright slightly acidic sweetness. Mandarins are smaller than regular oranges. Typically much easier to peel, in fact they’re often referred to as “Zipper Oranges”.
They get their name from where they originated–the first mandarins were actually discovered in China, and they got their name because the orange skin of the mandarins resembled the coats that the courtesans wore in ancient China. Clementines may be the most famous and most well-known of the mandarins but there are several others: Murcott mandarins, Satsumas, Fall Glow tangerines… there’s many.
In 1902, Clementine was discovered in Algeria as a natural cross between the tangerine and the bitter Seville orange, which is interesting because there’s no bitterness in this wonderful little piece of fruit.
Mandarins are always smaller than regular oranges.
They feel spongy, is it bad?
So I said “zipper skin”, when you feel the Clementine, it may feel a little spongy, you may think it’s a little over ripe when it’s actually perfect. The skin just doesn’t attach to the segments. You can pop your thumb in the bottom and literally zip the skin right out. The segments are easily removed and utilized.
For a long time these were thought of as Christmas oranges simply because their availability was from late November and into January.
Clementines are in season domestically from November to April, rotating through varietals during those months. During other times of the year, sourcing shifts to South America, Spain and North Africa, making them available more or less all year.
Content provided by Chef Daniel Snowden, the Director of Culinary Development for FreshPoint Central Florida. He has been in the produce industry years almost 20 years, and loves getting geeky about food. Follow FreshPoint Central Florida on Facebook and Instagram.
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