December is the month for mandarin oranges - satsumas, clementines, tangerines. Halos and Cuties brands are super sweet seedless clementines. Great for a Vitamin-C packed snack!
Satsumas are known for their loose, leathery skin; the fruit is very easily peeled in comparison to other citrus fruits. The rind is often smooth to slightly rough with shape of a medium to small flattened sphere. Satsumas usually have 10 to 12 easily separable segments with tough membranes. The flesh is particularly delicate, and cannot withstand the effects of careless handling. Coloring of the fruit is often dependent on climate, satsumas grown in humid areas maybe ripe while the skin is still green and those grown in areas with cool night temperatures may see a brilliant reddish orange skin at peak.
Clementine is an early season mandarin that ripens along with the popular Owari satsuma mandarin. Not as adaptable to the cold as the Owari, however the clementine is very well adapted to all typical citrus growing areas and hothouse climates where it produces superior fruit. This is where the majority of the bagged clementines are grown commercially.
The small clementine mandarin is an excellent eating fruit. The peel is smooth, bright orange, and easy to remove. The deep orange fruit can be easily separated into numerous segments and are almost always seedless, with only a hint of acid, just enough to bring out the wonderful flavor.
Tangerines are considered as a mandarin variety. They are smaller and less rounded than the oranges. The taste is considered less sour, as well as sweeter and stronger, than that of an orange. A ripe tangerine is firm to slightly soft, and pebbly-skinned with no deep groves, as well as orange in color. The peel is thin, with little bitter white mesocarp. All of these traits are shared by mandarins generally.
Tangerines are mostly commonly peeled and eaten by hand. The fresh fruit is also used in salads, desserts and main dishes. The peel is used fresh or dried as a spice or zest for baking and drinks.
One of our favorite dessert recipes that uses clementines is Nigella Lawson's Clementine Cake. Very simple to make - and absolutely delicious!
Nigella's Clementine Cake
13 ounces clementines (approx. 4)
6 large eggs
1¼ cups granulated sugar
2¼ cups almond meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
Put the clementines in a pan with some cold water, bring to the boil, cover partially with the lid and cook for 2 hours. Drain, discarding the cooking water, and, when cool, cut each clementine in half and remove any seeds you find.
Dump the clementines — skins, pith, fruit and all — and give a quick blitz in a food processor. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Butter and line an 8-inch springform pan. You can then add all the other ingredients to the food processor and mix.
Pour the cake mixture into the prepared tin and bake for an hour, when a skewer will come out clean; you'll probably have to cover with foil after about 40 minutes to stop the top burning. Remove from the oven and leave to cool, on a rack. When the cake's cold, you can take it out of the tin.