One of the most popular winter fruits are mandarins. Known also as “easy-peelers”, these little orange juicy fruits are the most popular citrus eaten as a snack. Easy-peelers is also probably the most diverse citrus group, with dozens of varieties, sub-varieties and hybrids.
Israeli grown mandarins are famous for their taste and quality and here we take a closet look at them.
Satsuma are the first mandarins of the season, harvested from the end of September through November. Their taste and color depends on time of harvest, with early fruits having deep to light green colored skin and sweet taste with a sour note. Later fruits are yellow to orange color and have very refreshing sweet taste. Satsumas are seedless variety with a very thin skin.
The next mandarin variety to be harvested is Suntina. Actually, it’s a hybrid of Clementine and Orlando. Suntina fruits are medium to large in size, with intense orange color and juicy flesh. Available December through March this variety is very similar to Nova and Clemenville.
Two – three weeks after the Suntina season begins, comes the time of one of European favorites – Minneola.
These can be easily distinguished because of the curious pear-like shape with a short neck. Minneolas are a hybrid between tangerine (also called Dancy mandarine) and grapefruit. Probably because of later, the skin of Minneola is thicker than other easy-peelers’. Under the skin, it has a sweet-sour taste, lots of juice and low number of seeds. The harvest finishes in March.
February brings a whole array of various mandarin varieties: Or, Ora, Murcott, Mor and Mandor (Topaz).
Or is undoubtedly the best and most popular Israeli mandarin variety. It’s harvest during February and March. Being a hybrid of Dancy and Temple varieties, Or has a very gently taste, juicy pulp and almost no seeds. Its another plus is the ability for long storage.
Ora is just another variety on the Or receipt, with similar characteristics.
Murcott, also know as Honey Mandarin, as very well known in Europe, and Israeli-grown fruit is very similar to the original from the US. Just like Or and Ora, Murcott is also harvested in February and March.
Mor is Israeli improvement of the Murcott variety: the fruits are bigger on the average, with lower count of seeds and longer harvest window – February to April.
Mandor, also known as Topaz, is a hybrid of mandarin and orange. It differs from other varieties by its lighter orange skin and gently sweet taste.
Also, Israel is home to very popular locally Michal and to Vinola varieties, but their share in total mandarin export is very low.