The mandarin is a small citrus fruit from the Rutaceae family; there are several varieties: Citrus reticulata, Citrus nobilis and Citrus clementina. The fruit is typically harvested in the winter and can be best enjoyed between December and March.

Originally from Southern China, in Italy the fruit is cultivated in Sicily and Calabria.

Mandarins are generally peeled and eaten fresh, used for fresh juice or used in salads, desserts and main dishes. The number of seeds in each segment (carpel) varies greatly.

The peel is very fragrant, and may be used fresh, whole or zested, or dried to keep on your shelf, once the season has passed. It can be used as a spice for cooking, baking, drinks, or sweets. Essential oil from the fresh peel may be used as a flavouring for sweets, in jellies, ice cream, chewing gum, and baked goods, as well as a flavouring for liqueurs.  In Chinese cuisine, the dried peel of the mandarin orange, called chenpi, is used to flavour both sweet and savoury dishes and sauces.

Mandarins contain Vitamins A, B, and a high level of Vitamin C which is great for preventing infections, removing free radicals, and supporting skin health., and are also used for medical and cosmetic purposes.


Nova mandarin

The Nova mandarin is grown in the mild climate and soft, fertile volcanic soil of Etna, which make these Sicilian citrus fruits unique. A sibling of the Lee, Osceola, and Robinson mandarins, the Nova is a hybrid of the Clementine mandarin and Orlando tangelo.

The tree grows vigorously and can be thorny. Its medium-sized fruit is usually sub-globose and has a slightly pebbled thin reddish-orange rind that is easily peeled. It is very juicy, contains few seeds and is appreciated for being slightly more acidic than the Common Clementine, bringing its taste a little closer to that of oranges. The combination of a lovely balance of acidity and sweetness, along with being easy to peel, has made this an increasingly popular citrus fruit.

Like all citrus fruits, they can be used for savoury dishes as well as desserts and patisserie. Segments added to a green salad with sliced red onions and black olives is lovely, alongside hearty or barbecued foods, or added to a salad of Romaine lettuce, avocado, mild red chiles, and onions; they add vitality to any meal. Added to a roasting chicken, the nova mandarin gives a beautiful fragrance, and the cooked fruit can be squeezed over the chicken or into the sauce.