The Kishu tangerine is a seedless, easy to peel variety. Measuring about two inches in diameter, the skin is very loose and the flesh is bright orange with a mild, sweet flavor.
Monterrey pears are a large variety from northern Mexico, botanically a cultivar of Pyrus pyrifolia. The Asian pear hybrid was selected from the tree of a popular southern Texas variety. Monterrey pears are a cross of European pear and a Japanese pear.
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Satsuma mandarins are medium to large-sized citrus fruits shaped like flattened spheres or little dumplings. They measure anywhere between 6 and 10 centimeters wide by 2 to 3 centimeters tall. When ripe, Satsuma mandarins have an orange-red, somewhat leathery peel with prominent oil glands. The rind is full of volatile oils, which release a bright citrus aroma. The dark orange flesh is divided into 10 to 12 segments and is firm. The flesh is extremely juicy. Most Satsuma varieties have little to no seeds. They are considered the sweetest of all the citrus varieties though they offer a degree of acidity. Satsumas must be handled with care; their loosely attached skin will bruise easily under slight pressure, affecting the quality of the flesh.
Satsuma mandarins are available in the early fall through winter months.
Satsuma mandarins, sometimes mistakenly referred to as tangerines, are a very old variety of citrus. Botanically, they are members of Citrus reticulata, though they were first classified as Citrus unshiu by Japanese botanist Tyôzaburô Tanaka. In Japan, Satsumas are known as Unshû mikan. They are the most significant of all the mandarin varieties and are distinguished by their cold hardiness and early harvesting season. There are hundreds of varieties of Satsuma mandarin such as Miyagawa, Owari, Miho and Seto. They have been marketed as "zipper skin" mandarins as the rind clings so loosely to the flesh that it can be peeled with just a couple of tears.
Satsuma mandarins are rich in vitamin C and vitamin A. Like other mandarins, they are a good source of dietary fiber and potassium. They also contain small amounts of copper, calcium and magnesium. Satsuma mandarins are a valuable source of flavonoid antioxidants such as naringenin, naringin and hesperetin, and pectin.
Satsuma mandarins are most commonly eaten fresh, removed and separated into sections. They may be used in green salads, in baked, frozen or fresh dessert preparations. Use Satsuma mandarin juice in cocktails or smoothies, or to blend with other citrus juices. Pair Satsuma with yogurt, endive, arugula, winter squash, leeks and pears. Use Satsuma mandarins alongside sweet, spicy or Asian flavors such as soy, ginger, garlic, vanilla, honey and olive oil. In Japan, a portion of the fresh fruit is processed for canning and juicing. Satsuma mandarins will keep at room temperature for up to 5 days. They can be refrigerated for up to 3 weeks in the crisper drawer.
Initially in Japan, Satsuma mandarins were considered undesirable. According to folklore, the fruit’s lack of seeds was indicative of childlessness and therefore, a bad omen. The Satsuma name is said to have originally come from the label on a box that bore the fruit on a trip from Japan to the United States. In 1878 the wife of America’s then Minister to Japan General Van Valkenberg, sent the fruits home from Satsuma. Because of the low heat requirement and cold tolerance, Satsuma mandarins are able to grow in many places other citrus varieties cannot. The citrus variety was the basis for the mandarin industry in New Zealand. It also provided a hardy crop for fruit tree growers in the Sacramento area of California after disease killed off most pear trees during a mid-20th century blight. Satsuma mandarins are so important to the economy of Placer County, California they are celebrated annually at the Mandarin Festival held before Thanksgiving. The Mountain Mandarin Growers' Association puts on the three-day festival, drawing upwards of 30,000 people.
Satsuma mandarins are likely native to an area of southeastern China and their cultivation dates back to 2000 BCE. The Japanese name Unshu may be a derivation of Wenzhou, the coastal city in Southern China where the citrus may have been imported from. They were first recorded in Japan during the 14th century, and were named for a former province in Japan. Satsuma was located on the southern tip of Kyushu Island, now known as Kagoshima Prefecture, where it is believed the fruit originated through a natural mutation. The cooler, sub-tropical region of southern Japan is ideal for Satsuma mandarins. It is one of the more cold-tolerant mandarin varieties as well as the earliest to ripen. This is because they require less total days of warm weather than other varieties. Satsuma mandarins were first introduced to Florida in the United States in 1876, by Dr. George R. Hall. The Rhode Island doctor traveled extensively and collected various species of plants from southeast Asia, bringing them to the United States. During the first decade of the 1900s, hundreds of Satsuma mandarins were sent to the Gulf Coast for planting. Severe frost and disease nearly wiped them all out though areas of Texas, Louisiana and northern Florida were able to maintain a small production of the fruit. Satsuma mandarins were subsequently brought to California, where they found success in the fertile Central Valley. In Japan, Satsuma growers will keep fruit in storage before it is sent to market for sale or export. Depending on whether the fruit is very early, early, or mid-season harvesting, it will be stored anywhere from 5 to 20 days. This process allows the acid content in the fruit to diminish, creating a better balance of sugar and tartness. New Zealand growers are also starting to use this practice. Satsuma mandarins are the main commercial citrus grown in the southern United States, along the Gulf Coast. Though Japan is still the world’s leading producer of Satsuma mandarins, exporting to Canada and Europe. Satsuma mandarins can be spotted at farmer’s markets and through markets carrying produce from local farms.
Recipes that include Satsuma Tangerines. One is easiest, three is harder.
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