5 ways to make sure you’re buying good quality mandarins
Of course, people in earlier times managed to get through winter without these little orange-colored vitamin bombs. But during the colder months, almost no one wants to give up eating mandarins if they don't have to. Because when the days are so short that you leave home for work when it's dark, only to arrive back also in the dark — these citrus fruits with the brightly-colored peel are having their high season. Let's bring a little sunshine into our homes...
But you don't always strike lucky when it comes to shopping. If the goods were in the warehouse too long, the shiny peel can still look inviting, but the mandarin flesh will taste woody, stale and leathery. You can avoid such disappointments, when you look for these five little details when purchasing:
1. Firstly, not all mandarins are alike. Close relatives of the mandarin — including clementines, tangerines, satsumas and minneolas — can also be found at the market. If you like the taste to be more intense and slightly acidic, go for mandarins or small tangerines. Clementines and satsumas are sweeter and have almost no seeds. Incidentally, these two sorts can be stored for longer (about two months).
2. Having first found the mandarin that you like the taste of best, it's now time to determine the freshness of the produce on sale. A clear indicator here is the weight. The more time that has passed since a mandarin was picked from its tree, the more juice — and therefore weight — it has lost. If you are spoilt for choice, you should weigh the fruits against each other.
3. Use the skin to undertake a further test of freshness: it should be firm and not too easy to peel off. Mandarin peel that feels like a pair of oversized pants is an indication of juice lost due to a long time in storage, as previously mentioned.
4. Check the point where the fruit was plucked from the tree — ideally this should appear white and soft. However, if this is beginning to turn brown, the fruit is already drying out.
5. When the mandarin has a stem and leaves, these can also help you out a little bit. Juicy, green and supple leaves are an indication of a particularly fresh fruit. But the leaves wither very quickly. If they crumble between your fingers, it's not automatically a sign that the flesh of the fruit is past its best.
Incidentally, green spots on the mandarin have nothing to do with whether it's already ripe. The skin takes on its orange colour when the days in the production region are much warmer than the nights. If the nights are too mild, the peel stays green in patches. These green spots do nothing to affect the flavor of these juicy favorites. With this in mind, snap up as many mandarins, clementines and satsumas as you can while stocks last! And if you can still remember what the other two types are called, why not give them a try too?