Mandarins are an entire family of small pumpkin-shaped oranges that includes the tangerine, clementine, and satsuma.
Fresh Mandarins: For Snacking or Cooking
Mandarins are easy to slip out of their skins, which are thin and fit loosely around the fruit. Getting to the juicy, sweet fruit inside is like unwrapping a tiny gift--which is one reason Mandarins are so popular eaten out-of-hand as a quick, healthy snack.
You can also add Mandarins to salad, or use their juice to make sauces.
Canned Mandarins: Add to Desserts or Dinner
Canned Mandarin oranges add sweetness to cakes. You can also toss them into salads or stir fries. If the hint of flavor seems familiar, it should be--the Mandarin's peel gives off an essential oil that is used to flavor hard candies, carbonated drinks, chewing gum, even perfume!
When to Buy Fresh Mandarins
Mandarins are at their delicious peak during the holiday season, and make an easy (and cheap) addition to Christmas stockings. Tangerines are the sweetest variety, but they also come with pesky seeds. Clementines, sometimes sold as "cuties," are almost always seedless. Satsumas--the variety you're most likely to get when you buy canned Mandarins--are also seedless.