Harvest of the Month featured produce for January: Mandarin Oranges | SierraSun.com

Harvest of the Month featured produce for January: Mandarin Oranges

Maria MartinSpecial to the Sun

Wet orange

When it is cold and snowy outside warm up with a little bit of sunshine from in-season California citrus fruits. In Placer County, the Mountain Mandarin Growersandamp;#8217; Association has been promoting local mandarins and supporting local growers for more than 50 years. The first mandarin trees in Placer County were planted in the 1880s by Welsh settlers in Penryn. Even though mandarins are the hardiest of citrus fruits and can stand short periods of below freezing weather, most of the trees were lost during major freezes in 1972 and 1986. The mandarin growers persevered and replanted and today there are more than 30 mandarin growers in Placer County. This month, children in our local elementary schools will be tasting mandarins as part of the Harvest of the Month Program. Mandarin is the group name for a class of oranges with a thin, loose peel. They are technically not andamp;#8220;orangesandamp;#8221; and are often simply referred to as andamp;#8220;mandarins.andamp;#8221; This fruit is a native of south-eastern Asia and the Philippines and today is most abundantly grown in China, Spain and Japan. In the United States, California is the second leading grower of mandarins behind Florida. Satsumas, Clementines and Minneola tangelos are Californiaandamp;#8217;s top three mandarin varieties. Other than the Sierra Foothills, leading counties of mandarin production are Tulare, Riverside, San Diego, Imperial and Ventura. Mandarins are a good Source of Vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage and strengthens the immune system. They are also good sources of Vitamin A and folic acid which support healthy vision and help prevent birth defects. The flavonoids in citrus fruits are known for their antioxidant properties and their ability to increase levels of Vitamin C within the bodyandamp;#8217;s cells, increase blood flow and provide anti-allergy and anti-inflammatory effects.Could a mandarin a day keep the sniffles away? In 2007, USDA researchers tested Placer County mandarins and discovered they contained up to six times as much synephrine as the same quantity of orange juice. Synephrine is a natural product that contains the same chemical as over the counter decongestants, and can help relieve cold and allergy symptoms. Enjoy lots of juicy mandarins and stay healthy during the winter cold and flu season. Choose mandarins that are pump and heavy for their size. Look for glossy, deep orange skins. Fruit with some patches of green near the stem are fine to eat. Citrus fruits do not continue to ripen after being picked and the green color is not an indicator of sweetness. Store mandarins on the countertop if they will be eaten in a few days or keep in the refrigerator for up to a week. Guy Frenette is the Chef de Cuisine at Moodyandamp;#8217;s Bistro andamp; Lounge. He began his career in Maine, and then moved west to work with top chefs in Oakland and San Francisco. An avid skier, Frenette moved to Truckee to enjoy our outdoor lifestyle. Try his recipe for Mandarin Orange Caesar with Grilled Prawns and enjoy a great source of citrus sunshine on a cold winter day.andamp;#8212; Maria Martin, MPH, RD is a member of the Nutrition Coalition and a Wellness Dietitian. The Nutrition Coalition is funded and supported by the Tahoe Forest Health System through the Tahoe Center for Health and Sports Performance. Contact us at (530) 587-3769, ext. 7126 or mmartin@tfhd.com.

Feeds fourFor the salad2 large heads of romaine12 large wild shrimp (peeled, deveined and grilled)2 Mandarin oranges (peeled and segmented)2 Avocados (sliced)1 large English cucumber (peeled, seeded and diced)For the dressing2 egg yolks1T Dijon mustard2 cloves garlic3 anchovy filets4 mandarin oranges (juice and zest)1T lemon juice1/2c salad oil1/2c olive oil1/4c grated parmesan cheeseSalt and pepper to tasteDressingIn blender mix yolks, mustard, garlic and anchovy blend until smooth. Slowly mix in juices and oils until emulsified, and then finish with cheese and salt and pepper to taste.In large mixing bowl mix romaine leaves with mandarin orange Caesar dressing, add salt and pepper to taste. Place in large serving platter garnish with shrimp, orange segments, avocado and cucumber.