Let's start with the name debate. This winter fruit that grows in Turkey is generally called mandarins, and tangerines and clementines are its different types. Clementines are the ones with bumpy skin, easier to peel and generally sweeter; meanwhile, tangerines have thinner skins, might be a bit tougher to peel and can be a touch on the sour side. This little detail is great to know to establish your preferences when consuming this little vitamin C bomb – one medium mandarin contains as much as 23.5 milligrams of the nutrient, making up a third of your daily required intake.
Personally, I am a tangerine fan and must say that they work the best for the recipes we'll cover here.
Jam or marmalade
We did talk previously about all the differences between jams, marmalades and the like here. But while we mostly focused on summer fruit, the same goes for winter fruit. Albeit slightly sour, a jam made out of mandarins will give a certain edge to your morning toast. Or try one of my favorite ways to use fruit preserves, by putting them between layers of vanilla cake. Any boring old cake can only profit from a flavorful addition like that.
To make mandarin jam, you'll first need to peel the fruit and cut them through the middle to remove any pips. Then run the fruit through a food processor or blender and add to a pot of your choice. Add a minimum of 1/10 of sugar to the mix (so, for 1 kilogram of fruit, you should add 100 grams of sugar) and bring that to boil while constantly stirring. Depending on your taste preferences, you can add more sugar, but skipping it entirely is not wise as sugar acts as a preservative. Once the mixture starts bubbling, turn down the heat and simmer the mixture until it starts to thicken. This might take 30-40 minutes. Once happy with the consistency, pour the mixture into sterilized jars and close them with clean and dry lids. When they cool off, they'll create a vacuum that makes it possible to store for several months (or even a year or two because you forget them in the back of the cupboard – but proceed with caution after such long periods).
A simple glazed cake
Who can say no to a simple cake topped off with a sugar glaze? It seems like the best companion to some afternoon tea or coffee, especially on cold days.
Mix the eggs and the sugar until the mixture turns light and fluffy. Continue mixing while adding the juices, vanilla and oil. In a separate bowl, mix the flour with the baking powder and gradually add that into the egg mixture. Do not over stir; once all ingredients are incorporated, pour the dough into your desired and previously oiled baking tin (or muffin cups for that matter). Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for about 20-30 minutes, depending on the depth of the tin. With muffins or cupcakes, your cooking time will likely be shorter, so check sooner with a toothpick to see if it has baked through.
Once the cake has cooled off, put a tablespoon of powdered sugar into a small bowl and slowly add lemon juice to it. Depending on the size of the cake you have made, you can gradually add more sugar and juice. Once the glaze has a thick consistency, spread it over the cake and let it harden.
If you don’t mind the thin peel of the mandarins, you can add a few slices of them into the dough, either cutting them up or grating some of the zest inside. It makes for an interesting texture and adds flavor.
Celery root citrus pot
Who says that mandarins can only be used for desserts and sweet dishes? This recipe tastes the best the day after, but eating it fresh is a treat as well.
Peel the celery root and chop it into cubes. Peel the carrots and quince as well, cutting the quince pieces roughly in the size of the celery cubes. The carrots should be sliced in thin pieces. Squeeze all the juices of the fruits (oranges, lemons, grapefruit and mandarins) and add them into a pot with the vegetables. Add the water as well and let it cook on low heat for about 20 minutes. Season it to your liking. Once the veggies have softened, add the olive oil and let it cool off.
Semolina helva with a twist
Helva just seems to be the perfect dessert for winter, so it's only natural to pair it with the fruit of winter. This version is definitely lighter than traditional helva recipes, which call for a lot more sugar and butter in addition to the oil, and will pleasantly surprise you with a taste explosion in your mouth.
Squeeze the juice of the mandarins and stir the sugar into the juice. Put the oil into a pan and add the semolina to it. Stir on medium heat until the semolina starts to change its color. Add the milk first and then pour the mandarin juice in as well. Close the lid and let the semolina soak in the juice. Check and stir if necessary. Once it has taken in all the liquid, turn the heat off and serve.
Don’t forget the peels
With that many recipes, there will certainly be many peels left over, and tossing them into the trash would be such a waste. Why not try to turn them into candied mandarin peels? Whether you have thinner tangerine or thicker clementine peels, or any other citrus fruit, this is a great sustainable and waste-free way to use them up.
Before you give the peels the sugar treatment, you'll want to make reduce the bitterness that comes from the white parts of the insides of the peel. You can try to scrape them as much as you can, but boiling them in water is a less arduous way. Cut the peels into thin strips and boil them for 15 minutes. Strain them and take a nibble to check for bitterness. Boiling them once may be enough, but if you won't no bitterness whatsoever you can boil the peels twice or thrice.
Meanwhile, prepare a syrup made out of two parts sugar and one part water. Boil that mixture until the sugar completely dissolves and throw in the strips of peel. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and let that cook together, keeping an eye on it and stirring occasionally. The peels should turn translucent and the syrup thicker than usual. Once you notice that, remove the peels and let the excess drip off. Toss them into a bit of sugar and let them dry off for several days. Store in an airtight container for a month or store them in ziplock bags in the freezer. When frozen, they should last for several months. But the longer they are in the freezer, the more the taste will be affected so be warned.
No one should waste perfectly edible food "scraps." So, if you found this recipe useful, you might want to check out these interesting ways to use vegetable and fruit peels as well.