Food Box

Donʻt turn up your nose at green tangerines.

Sweet, local childhood treats

Nature’s self-wrapped snack, great to go

Tangerines are showing up at farmers’ markets, reminding us of the days before markets were flooded with imported clementines, aka “cuties,” from Spain or Portugal. A form of mandarin orange, tangerines, like other citrus fruit, grow well in Hawaii. Our first bag of the season was a wake-up call, each fruit packed with delicate juicy sweetness.

Sometimes, however, you do get a sour batch, which happened with our second bag, from a different farm. It was then we learned that the color of a local tangerine doesn’t speak to its ripeness: A green tangerine can be plenty sweet, and an orange one can taste bitter. What counts is the climate where it was grown.

Ask your farmer if the tangerines hail from lower elevations, ideally between sea level to 500 feet. “Fruit of citruses such as orange and tangerine usually fails to develop color when grown at Hawaii’s lower elevations, and a green or green-yellow skin coloration is normal in ripe fruit,” according to the UH Manoa College of Tropical Agriculture’s 2008 article, “Citrus for Hawaii’s Yards and Gardens.”

If you’ve bought a sour tangerine, fear not. Let the rest of the bunch ripen a couple days in the sun, or if you don’t want to wait, slice and squeeze the fruit through a strainer into a glass of water or a cup of tea and stir in some local honey or turbinado sugar. The juice is great in lieu of orange juice and with cocktails, too, and they are lighter than oranges to pack with lunch. Varieties grown in Hawaii are Fairchild, Fremont, Lee, Nova, Okinawan, Honey, King and Dancy.

Tangerines are showing up at farmers’ markets, reminding us of the days before markets were flooded with imported clementines, aka “cuties,” from Spain or Portugal. A form of mandarin orange, tangerines, like other citrus fruit, grow well in Hawaii. Our first bag of the season was a wake-up call, each fruit packed with delicate juicy sweetness.

Sometimes, however, you do get a sour batch, which happened with our second bag, from a different farm. It was then we learned that the color of a local tangerine doesn’t speak to its ripeness: A green tangerine can be plenty sweet, and an orange one can taste bitter. What counts is the climate where it was grown.

Ask your farmer if the tangerines hail from lower elevations, ideally between sea level to 500 feet. “Fruit of citruses such as orange and tangerine usually fails to develop color when grown at Hawaii’s lower elevations, and a green or green-yellow skin coloration is normal in ripe fruit,” according to the UH Manoa College of Tropical Agriculture’s 2008 article, “Citrus for Hawaii’s Yards and Gardens.”

If you’ve bought a sour tangerine, fear not. Let the rest of the bunch ripen a couple days in the sun, or if you don’t want to wait, slice and squeeze the fruit through a strainer into a glass of water or a cup of tea and stir in some local honey or turbinado sugar. The juice is great in lieu of orange juice and with cocktails, too, and they are lighter than oranges to pack with lunch. Varieties grown in Hawaii are Fairchild, Fremont, Lee, Nova, Okinawan, Honey, King and Dancy.