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Tangerines and Mandarins at the Martinez Farmers Market

BY DEBRA J. MORRIS

At first glance, it is hard to tell the differences between tangerine and mandarin. Not only do they look alike, their taste is also similar and both grow on trees that also look similar. They both are part of the orange family; however, tangerines are a specific type of mandarin as a tangerine actually is a subgroup of the mandarin, with many hybrids like Satsumas and Clementines. Just remember that a tangerine is a type of mandarin.

A tangerine is darker, reddish-orange rind, and has a thick skin with bumps. The name tangerine comes from the port of Tangiers in Morocco.

The mandarin has thinner skin that is smooth. It has a lighter skin color and slightly sweeter taste. Mandarins are easier to peel because its skin is harder but easier to peel off. The name mandarin is said to come from the robes worn by the Chinese.

You can use both interchangeably in salads, desserts and main dishes, marinades and salad dressings. The peel can be used fresh or dried as a spice or zest for baking and drinks, and eaten coated in chocolate.

Look for tangerines and mandarins that hare heavy for their size, slightly soft to the touch, and without blemishes or mold. Avoid those with wrinkled skin. You’ll find only the freshest, just picked fruit at J&J Ramos Farms from Hughson at the Martinez Farmers’ Market. They offer both Murcott and Satusuma varieties of tangerines, both with sweet mild flavor and perfect to incorporate into your next recipe.

  • Enjoy in a fresh citrus, onion, and avocado salad.
  • Squeeze into your favorite marinade or salad dressing.
  • Stir fry with shrimp or chicken (add at the end)
  • Make an Asian chicken salad with lettuce, almonds, red onion, tangerines, and an Asian sesame dressing. Top with crispy noodles.
  • Squeeze for a refreshing juice, instead of orange juice.

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