Orange you glad for mandarins? |

Orange you glad for mandarins?

Amanda Thibodeau
Special to The Union

January is here! Happy 2014!

While our neighbors to the east are experiencing a polar vortex, we in Nevada County are wearing T-shirts during the day. It hardly seems fair.

We may not be getting the precipitation that we need from our winter months, but luckily we are still experiencing the bounty of the season.

Last week, students at 12 local schools sampled the last gorgeous, sweet, orange orbs of the mandarin season. These mandarins are grown by Sunset Ridge Mandarins and are part of Sierra Harvest's Farm to School efforts in its Harvest of the Month Program.

Sunset Ridge is a family owned and operated, 20-acre citrus orchard in Newcastle.

They have 2,000 Satsuma owari mandarins trees, 250 Tango mandarins, 100 navels, 50 Minneola tangelos, 30 pomegranates, peaches, apricots, plums and cherries.

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The combination of warm days, cool nights and fertile soil that drains well provides an ideal climate for Sunset Ridge to grow top-quality mandarin oranges.

Did you know:

— California leads national production of fresh citrus and ranks second (behind Florida) in total citrus production.

— California is the nation's second-leading grower of mandarins and leads domestic production of Clementines.

— Citrus plants are large shrubs or small trees distinguished by their shiny, evergreen leaves and fragrant blossoms.

The flowers produce a fruit known as a hesperidium, a berry with a leathery rind surrounding pulp-filled segments.

— Most citrus trees blossom two to five years after planting. Citrus fruits can be left on the tree without becoming overripe and do not continue to ripen after being picked.

— Mandarins or tangerines both names have been used for the same fruit and are results of a colorful and interesting past. Mandarins are believed to have originated in China. They were so highly regarded there that they were named after the officials of the Imperial Court, the Mandarins.

— Popularity of these fruits was so great at that time that visitors to China always took seeds home with them — spreading both east to Japan and the Philippines and west through India, Arabia and North Africa.

— During its travels, this special fruit was imported into Europe through Tangiers in Morocco and so Europeans began to call them Tangerines.

— Mandarins taste great and are great for you.

— One medium mandarin orange is about a 1⁄2 cup of fruit sections.

— A 1⁄2 cup serving of mandarins is an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of vitamin A.

— Our bodies do not make or store vitamin C so try to eat foods with vitamin C every day.

Orange Freeze

Makes 4 servings

1 1⁄4 cup per serving

Prep time: 5 minutes

1 cup 100 percent orange juice

10 ice cubes

1 cup milk (or soymilk/almond milk)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 peeled and seeded fresh mandarins or 2 cups drained, canned mandarin oranges

Optional add-ins: Flax meal, cinnamon, yogurt

Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend for about 30 seconds or until smooth. Pour into four glasses and serve.

Amanda Thibodeau is with Sierra Harvest. For information on Farm to School programs, visit Sierra Harvest's website at

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