Friday afternoon, a heavy box brimming with satsuma mandarins courtesy of Chaffin Family Orchards greeted me at the post office. I’d anticipated their arrival all week – eager for something fresh and vibrant after a month when no other fresh fruit was available from our CSA but for apples. These beautiful mandarins – like a palm full of sunshine – enlivened our kitchen, offering that slightly intense, perfect coupling of sweet and sour. The moment I pierced the skin of the first mandarin pulled from the box, I brought it to my nose to inhale its aroma – a vibrant combination of piercing citrus and subtle floral notes. Fresh. Decidedly fresh.
There’s beauty in the seasonality of any food, but citrus fruit is remarkably well-suited to its season. Indeed, it’s one of nature’s best gifts that these bright fruits come into season just when the days become dark and we miss the sun the most. For this reason, mandarins make for a charming gift during the holiday season – a way to offer a little sunshine to someone during the deep dark days of winter.
Of course, 15 lbs of mandarins seemed daunting at first. How would I make use of this bounty without letting any of the orchard’s work go to waste? While they make a perfect snack, peeled and eaten fresh, I wanted more. Shall I make citrus mead? Mandarins poached in a star anise syrup? Candied mandarin peel? Mandarin rooibos tea? Mandarin pudding? With the upcoming holiday, I settled on my first dish: a mandarin cranberry relish.
Both mandarins and cranberries are a potent source of vitamin C – although each offer a different combination of nutrients in addition to that vitamin C. Mandarins provide folate and fresh cranberries offer vitamins E and K in addition to manganese.
mandarin cranberry relish
By November 23, 2009Published:
- Yield: 1 quart
- Prep: 10 mins
This recipe makes approximately 1 quart of relish. The cranberries and mandarins remain raw in this dish, and the mandarins are used whole. The dish is fresh, lively and raw – with faint bitter undertones courtesy of the mandarin’s peel. The peel, incidentally, is where much of the fruit’s ascorbic acid content is concentrated.
- 6 cups Fresh, Organic Cranberries
- 4 Organic Satsuma Mandarins
- 1/2 cup Fresh, Organic Apple Juice
- 2 tbsp Lemon Juice
- 1/4 cup Whole, Unrefined Cane Sugar or to taste
- Rinse and pick over the cranberries, discarding any bruised or mushy fruit.
- Chop the mandarins coarsely – including the rind.
- Combine all ingredients in your food processor and process until it forms the desired texture which should be slightly coarse.
- Chill and serve.