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Amanatsu oranges are a large citrus variety, similar to a navel orange or grapefruit. They have a globular shape, slightly flattened at either end. The orange rind easily peels away, leaving a thick pith on the outer portion of each segment. Altogether Amanatsu oranges contain 12 segments and can have up to 30 seeds. Commonly, the individual citrus sections are removed from their pith, which can give the segments a bitter taste. Amanatsu oranges have a sweet and sour flavor that is best described as refreshing. The taste is said to improve with storage.
Amanatsu oranges are available in the late spring and through the summer months.
Amanatsu oranges, or Natsumikan, are botanically known as Citrus natsudaidai. They are referred to as Japanese summer oranges and are the pride of several prefectures in Japan, most notably Yamaguchi prefecture. The summer citrus is also known as Amanatsu daidai or Amanatsu mikan. There are several cultivars of Amanatsu, including the Tajima and the Kawano Nastudaidai, a variety sent to the Citrus Research station at Riverside, California. Amanatsu oranges are likely a hybrid of a pomelo and sour orange.
Amanatsu oranges, like other sour oranges, are high in vitamin C and potassium, and are a good source of folate, niacin, magnesium, and vitamin B1.
Amanatsu oranges are used for fresh eating as well as for their juice and rind. The juice makes a refreshing beverage and can be used for cocktails or blended with other citrus juices. Amanatsu oranges are used for making marmalade and the rind is often candied. In Japan, individual segments are removed from their pith and served in a clear jelly. Amanatsu oranges can be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks.
In Japan, the Ichijoji Brewery has a beer called the Amanatsu Orange Ale. In Saga prefecture, on the island of Kabe, a local family makes a jelly out of Amanatsu oranges. The dessert is called 'Yobuko Yume Amanatsu Jelly' and is served like a pudding, in the rind of the citrus fruit. It is popular among locals and visitors. In Osaka, Amanatsu picking is a popular family activity in the spring and early summer, attracting tourists and locals alike.
Amanatsu oranges were discovered growing in Yamaguchi prefecture of Japan around 1740. The citrus is grown in Japan, mainly in Yamaguchi, Kumamoto and Ehime prefectures. The original tree in Yamaguchi prefecture is reportedly still alive, surviving since the late 18th century. Amanatsu oranges are popular in Japan and there are two main varieties that are cultivated, the Kawano, which is less acidic and the Tajima, which is a very juicy, high acid variety. Amanatsu oranges are often referred to as simply, Nastudaidai, or “summer orange”. Outside of Japan, Amanatsu oranges are not commercially available.