By Chelsea Fisher
Cute clementines and their mandarin orange cousins, tangerines, are both available throughout most of the year, but are truly at their best when they are in season, from late fall through winter.
Recent research has found that there are more benefits to eating mandarin oranges than just that delicious taste. Hesperidin, a compound found in orange variety fruits can potentially help protect healthy cells and tissues from up to 33% of damage caused by radiation therapy. Also, according to American Institute for Cancer Research, cryptoxanthin, a phytochemical found in tangerines, may reduce the risk of cervical cancer.
Clementines and tangerines taste their best during cold and flu season, a time when their tasty dose of immune-boosting vitamin C, is most needed, especially if your immune system is compromised due to treatment. They also provide calcium, potassium, and folate, all important nutrients for maintaining cell and tissue health.
To ensure a clementine is good there should be no spotting, signs of shriveling, mold, or unpleasant smells, and they should feel heavy for their size. I always look for fruits with leaves. Not only do they look pretty in the fruit dish, the freshness of the leaves will indicate the freshness of the fruit. You can often buy clementines in bulk boxes. They will stay fresh in the refrigerator for over a week, or on the counter for about a week.
Tangerines, however, are known as the most perishable of oranges. They will keep a day or two at room temperature and up to a week in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator.
Tangerines and clementines are delicious additions to salads. For a bright combination of colors and tastes, lay the segments on a bed of arugula with radishes, red onions, black olives, and slivered almonds. For even more color, add roasted beets. You can also use tangerines to make a sweet and sour maple glaze for chicken or fish using onions, thyme, tangerine juice, soy sauce, maple syrup, and black pepper for spice. Or for dessert, simply juice them to make a simple, refreshing granita.