Monday, July 24, 2017

Homegrown mandarins

We are loving mandarin season here at the moment. In years past we've jumped for joy when imperials appear on our supermarket shelves and expressed disappointment when the honey murcotts take over. But this year is different.

This year we're all about the home grown! Not from our own garden, but from the gardens of our neighbour and our aunt, who have generously gone overseas during peak citrus season and encouraged us to enjoy the spoils of their labour.

Last year mandarins were still a little tart for our twins, who are now two-and-a-half, but this year any sharpness is overlooked for the excitement of peeling the things. "My do it" is the common phrase from the pair. This is fortunate, because anyone familiar with homegrown citrus knows that sharpness can vary. A lot.

I'm not sure how much is getting eaten. Sometimes it's more about the challenge of the peel and the joy of spitting the seeds out, a skill they've only just learnt. I'm just happy there's some enthusiasm for something healthy. Particularly from Tommy, who would otherwise survive on nothing but weetbix, eggs and custard.

I've always thought mandarins a little tricky to cook with. So much more fragile than other citrus fruit. How do you grate the rind or juice the interior without rendering the whole thing to mush?

I can't provide the answer to this (can you?) but I can provide links to three mandarin recipes that have caught my eye from my own cook book collection and online. Our newly purchased house backs onto bushland and there is a "wild" mandarin tree down the gully. Next year I might give it some love (ie water and fertiliser) and see what we get. I'm optimistically thinking we might need these recipes to get through a glut... 

Goats cheese platter with mandarin preserve from delicious magazine... if you're anti-goats cheese stop turning up your nose and simply substitute a good smelly washed rind. I love how minimal prep is required for this preserve. 

Mandarin salad with cherry tomatoes and nuts, because someone out there might be a little healthier than me. 

Dark gingerbread cake with mandarin compote from Gourmet Traveller because I can't resist cake and again with the easy-prep. Mandarin is surely the lazy gals' citrus?

NONE of these recipes have been tested by me. I have three kids under three, and two of them are devouring most of the bounty. If YOU cook one of the recipes, I'd love to hear what you think. Keeper or not?

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