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Japanese Mikan Orange
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Mikans peel very easily and have few or even no seeds, so they make great on-the-go snacks. The fruit grows from about 2 ½ to 3 inches, and has loose, leathery skins. They are very sweet, as evidenced by the translation of the name unshu mikan, which means "Honey Citrus of Wezhou" (referring also to a city in China).
Mikan oranges are available in the early winter months.
Mikan oranges are a variety of Japanese citrus also known as satsumas or unshu mikan. They are a type of mandarin orange, or Citrus unshiu, now growing in popularity around the world. Mikans come in four main varieties: goku wase, wase, nakate, and okute.
Like other citrus, Mikans are a healthy treat that contains high amounts of Vitamin C, along with substantial amounts of potassium and dietary fiber. Citrus can help strengthen the immune system and digestive system.
Because Mikan oranges are so easy to peel and don't make a mess, most people enjoy them fresh as a snack or dessert. They go well in salads, with yogurt, or in seafood, chicken, or turkey dishes. Choose Mikans that are unblemished and brightly colored. The skin should be somewhat loose, but not dried out. Keep Mikans for a week stored in plastic in the refrigerator.
Japanese New Year celebrations often include some Mikan oranges, because they ripen at just the right time, though some households keep a careful eye on personal mikan trees to keep them growing all year long. Those that don't often travel out to farms to pick their own.
Mikans are native to China, but are now primarily popular in Japan. They arrived in Japan by way of China approximately 400 years ago, before traveling to Europe and the Americas. In 1878, they were transplanted in Florida, and fresh and canned mikan were exported from Japan to the United States after World War II. Japan remains one of the biggest mikan producers in the world, particularly the Shizuoka, Wakayama, and Ehime prefectures, along with Korea and the United States.