There are three main varieties of mandarin. Imperial – the first fruits of the season – have smooth, glossy skin and sweet flesh with very few seeds. Ellendale, which are medium to large in size, have a deep orange skin that is easy to peel and a sweet, rich taste. Murcott or Honey tangerines are harvested near the end of the growing season. They have thin, smooth skin and are yellow-orange in colour with a distinctly sweet taste.
Look for mandarins that feel heavy for their size and have a glossy skin.
Mandarins can be stored for up to a week in the fridge.
Mandarins can be eaten raw or cooked. Thanks to their small size and easy-to-peel skins, They are perfect for lunchboxes. Add peeled mandarins to fruit or green salads, rice or couscous sides or use the juice for meat marinades. Add to crumbles, tarts, crepes or pavlovas.
4 quick ways with mandarins
Try this fresh salad: thinly slice a large bulb of fennel. Combine with 4 segmented mandarins and a large handful of chopped parsley. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon each olive oil and white balsamic vinegar. Toss to combine.
Liven up dinner with this chicken dish. Marinate 4 chicken breasts for several hours in a marinade made from 1/4 cup each sherry and mandarin juice, and 1 teaspoon each reduced-salt soy sauce, mandarin zest and grated ginger. Cover chicken with foil and bake for 20 minutes at 180°C. Serve with rice or couscous and a sauce made from 1/4 cup each low-fat yoghurt, mandarin juice and 2 tablespoons chopped mint.
For an easy, healthy dessert, combine 4 segmented mandarins with 1 punnet quartered strawberries in a baking dish. Sprinkle with caster sugar. Top with your favourite crumble mixture. Bake at 180°C for 20–25 minutes, until top is crisp and golden.
This simple meal packs up well for lunch. Combine cooked couscous with baby spinach, chopped almonds or pecans, mandarin segments, chopped tomatoes and half a sliced avocado. Sprinkle with crumbled blue cheese.
Did you know? Mandarins contain the antioxidant lutein, which can help prevent premature macular degeneration.