Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I Dream in Tangerine

I love tangerines. Love. So I was mega-excited when I saw the big tangerine display at Whole Foods showcasing several different varieties of tangerines. I decided I needed to taste-test every kind they had in stock. I got the Page, Gold Nugget, Honey (sometimes called a Kinnow or a Murcott), TDE (Minneola), Yosemite Gold, and Satsuma. Unfortunately, they didn't have any Fairchilds or Clementines, both of which I think are earlier in the season.

Bio specifics about the varieties.

Page. A clementine-minneola tangelo cross, or tangor. Dark orange, round, intensely flavored. Harder to peel; quarter for easy eating. Mainly seedless, but not always.

Gold Nugget Mandarin. A variety of mandarins. Deliciously sweet with a bright orange, seedless interior. Bright and slightly bumpy rind. Easy to peel and separate into segments.

Honey Mandarin. Previously marketed as Kinnow mandarins. Rich, aromatic, and distinctive flavor. They peel and segment easily, and are extremely juicy. The fruit is thin skinned, slightly flattened with no neck and are smooth, almost glossy, in texture.

Minneola Tangelo. Easily identified by the knob-like formation at the stem end. Cross between a Duncan grapefruit and a Dancy tangerine. Grows large in size and will display a deep red-orange exterior color, with a slightly pebbled texture. Delicious tart-sweet flavor. Peel very easily, and have few if any seeds.

Yosemite Gold. Newer variety. Big; bright orange, seedless, easy to peel. The exterior peel has small pimply bumps. Sweet and juicy.

Satsuma Mandarin. Peels and segments easily. The exterior is light orange color and perhaps a tinge of green, but the interior will be a bright orange. Pebbly in texture and varies in shape from flat to necked.

[And more details on several other varieties here.]

Tangerine Slices
Eating Experience+

***** awesome! Highly recommended.
**** hey, this is pretty dang good.
*** not bad at all.
** eh.
* bad. Keep looking for alternatives.

Page *****
 These were my favorite of the varieties. Great flavor, zero seeds. Easy to de-rind and peel apart. Perfect.

Gold Nugget ****
I think these were my second favorite, maybe tied with the Satsuma. Good flavor, but slightly chewier than the Page.

Honey **1/2
These have great flavor. It's unfortunate that the skin is so tough and there are so many rind bits and several huge seeds to get around. These I think would be perfect for juicing, because they are not much fun to eat. And in fact, that is what I did, shoved them into the juicer.

TDE (Minneola) **
Ok, first of all, these were labled as TDE hybrids on the sign but their stickers all said Minneolas, and well, they sure look like Minneola tangelos to me. So I am betting that is what they are. Unfortunately the flavor was a bit watered down. Perhaps the paleness of the fruit in the photo above is an indicator of that. Anyway, after my sample slice, I also added these to the juice

Yosemite Gold ***
These tangerines have the weirdest peel, covered in pimply dots. Too bad you can't tell from the photo. Not all of the Yosemite Golds had such pronounced pimples, but mine did. This one was ok, a little tart. Much better flavor than the Minneola, but not as good as the Page and Gold Nugget. I added this one into my juice.

Satsuma ****
Probably 3rd place, or tied for 2nd. These were pretty good.  Good flavor, easy to peel. No annoying issues with rind or seed. I believe the Satsumas are usually the ones you find canned as mandarin oranges, which I do love adding to salads.

I highly recommend the Page, and also the Satsuma and Gold Nugget. I'd be interested to see how the Fairchilds and Clementines compare. I know that the Minneola tangelos can be super awesome, and I might have just had a less than perfect specimen. I usually pick tangelos over any kind of orange if they have both at the market. Of course, I tend to choose other kinds of tangerines over tangelos though too.

Even if you get a less than stellar batch of tangerines, all is not lost. Salvage the juice for some fresh-squeezed goodness. I mixed the juice of the Minneola, Honey, and Yosemite Gold and it was downright amazing. Of course, tangerines are small, so I really only got one glass out of my samples and a couple of extra Honey tangerines.

Whatever variety you do get...**Beware of puffy tangerines.** Everything I read about them suggested that puffy tangerines means they were picked past their prime and will likely not give you a good taste experience. Good luck! And happy tangerine dreams to you.


+Keep in mind that each single fruit is a completely different experience which also depends on where we are in the season. In other words, my results may be different from yours based on fruit condition, ripeness, etc.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Puffy mandarins are my favorite haha, at least if they're satsumas, super sweet. Other mandarins might not taste so good at that point.