Monday, February 8, 2010

Winter Fruit Spotlight – Tangerine Dream!

I was discussing the limited selections of winter fruit the other day with a friend when we realized there was actually quite a plethora of wintertime goodness available (outside of the ol’ standby – apples). After some discussion, we agreed that one of our favorites was the lovely tangerine.

A tangerine is a citrus fruit, Citrus reticulata, which is smaller and less sweet than a classic orange. They are an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of fiber and folate. The fruits are sometimes considered excellent pocket foods, because they are small with easily removed rinds (unlike the orange, but that may just be me…).

The tangerine is actually a variety of mandarin orange from China, which made its way to Europe and North America in the nineteenth century via Tangier, the Moroccan city which gave the fruit its name. Varieties include the popular Dancy, seedless mandarin varieties like the clementine, satsuma, and a new hybrid, the neopolitan.

In 1710, the word “tangerine” entered the English language to describe things from that city, and the word was adopted for the fruit specifically in the 1800s. Originally, it was known as a “tangerine orange,” but the name became shortened over time.

The peel of a tangerine is easy to remove, and tends to be slightly loose over the fruit below. Once the peel is removed, the segments of the tangerine are also easily separated; sadly most varieties have an abundance of seeds.

The season for tangerines is November through February in the Northern hemisphere. When selecting the fruits in the store, look for firm to hard fruits which feel rather heavy for their size. The peel may have a pebbly appearance, but it should not be discolored. Other varieties have smoother skins, and tangerines can often be found with their stems and leaves attached.

Tomorrow I will post some great recipes that feature tangerines and maybe, just maybe – I will post a link to my favorite Tangerine Dream song :)

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