We've teamed up with Countdown to bring you everything you need to know about this versatile little fruit, along with why it's so good for you and how to take it beyond the children's lunchboxes.
Introducing the mighty little Satsuma
Mandarins are originally from China where they grew for thousands of years; they were first introduced to the western world via Japan in the early 20th century. At the time westerners named them mandarins in honour of the mandarin officials in the imperial court.
Satsuma mandarins are our favourite variety; they are seedless, easy to peel and oh-so-juicy and sweet. Centuries of clever breeding and cultivating means we can happily munch a satsuma without the fear of tasting a bitter mandarin seed! This fact makes satsuma the perfect choice for cooking or when making pantry favourites like this mandarin and apricot jam as there is no fiddly de-seeding necessary!
What also makes these fruit so special is that unlike many citrus fruits, the satsuma has a limited season and is only available from April through to August - so get them while they're hot!
Watch James Williams of Williams Brothers Citrus show us the satsuma mandarin process from his 80-hectare orchard to the shelves
Being such a friendly little fruit, so easy to peel and with no pesky seeds, it's great news that satsumas also punch above their weight with nutritional goodness! Like other citrus fruits, the satsuma is full of vitamin C, with one fruit providing almost half of your daily recommended vitamin C intake - take that winter colds and flu!
The health benefits don't stop there as they also contain folate, which works to lower homocysteine levels in the blood, a heart risk factor. They also contain plenty of calcium for strong bones and teeth, potassium which helps to lower blood pressure, and a big dose of fibre which helps lower cholesterol levels.
This glossy orange fruit certainly has a healthy attitude, and it's easy to see why satsuma are a lunchbox fruit favourite for busy mums or are great for adding tangy flavour to baking treats like these mandarin milk chocolate cookies or our gluten-free mandarin, polenta and macadamia cake
Where do our Satsumas come from
Satsuma mandarins grow in New Zealand in two beautiful sunny locations, Keri Keri and Gisborne. The perfect satsuma needs plenty of sunshine and regular water throughout the summer months to get that wonderful sweetness happening. They are then carefully harvested by hand to avoid bruising and delivered to Countdown. Once you've got them home, Satsuma mandarins can be stored in the fridge for up to ten days, or at room temperature for about a week.
How to make the most of the Satsuma season!
In the sweets department, Satsuma can be a fresh substitute in recipes that call for lemon or orange juice and zest, keep in mind that for every orange in a recipe you will need 2-3 mandarins. Of course, there are also lots of sweet recipes that feature mandarins, and the fruit works well with spices such as cardamom, ginger, nutmeg or tropical tastes like our easy banana, passionfruit and mandarin sauce which is delicious over ice cream. Or you could try this more unusual combo and team mandarins with fresh rosemary with our mandarin and rosemary cake. Don't forget that vanilla, coffee and chocolate are also good dessert mates with the mandarin so you'll want to try this chocolate mandarin crumble tart to prove our point!
Savoury dishes are always a taste sensation when you combine sweet and sour flavours like this pan-seared duck salad with mandarin and ginger noodles or try this quick and easy midweek meal of mandarin fish and chilli jam which can be served with crispy noodles or with a side of steamed rice - yum! Why not cook the family our buttery turmeric and mandarin roast chicken or veal chops with fennel and mandarin instead of the usual Sunday roast?