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Fairchild tangerines are medium-sized, round and flattened at each end. They measure an average of 5 centimeters long and 6 centimeters wide and have a deep orange-colored rind. The medium-thin rind is slightly pebbled in texture and clings to the flesh. Fairchild tangerines have a juicy, bright orange flesh with an average of 2 seeds per section. They have a rich flavor with low acidity, and a sweetness that increases through the season.
Fairchild tangerines are available in the late fall and through the winter months.
Fairchild tangerines are a variety of Citrus reticulata, or mandarin. They are a hybrid variety selected from a cross between a clementine and an Orlando tangelo. Fairchild tangerines were initially recommended for growers in the deserts of California and Arizona due to their tolerance to the climate. They are often referred to as the “first of the season” tangerines and may be found with their stem and leaves still attached.
Fairchild tangerines are high in vitamins A and C, dietary fiber and folate. They contain calcium, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus. Tangerines contain amino acids and important antioxidants like the carotenoids beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin.
Fairchild tangerines can be used both raw and for their juice. Underripe fruits will be harder to peel whereas fruits picked later in the season will peel the easiest. Candy the rind or use to make jams or preserves. De-seeded segments can be added to green or fruit salads. The rind’s zest can be used to flavor beverages, baked goods, or frozen desserts. Juice Fairchild tangerines for beverages, marinades, sauces, and frozen desserts. Store Fairchild tangerines at room temperature for a few days, refrigerate for up to a week.
Though Fairchild tangerines are referred to as “first of the season” some home and commercial growers prefer to harvest their citrus fruits later into the season. In Southern California, the season can extend into March. Fairchild tangerines will hang on the tree for a long time, allowing the sugars to develop, the acidity to drop and the skin to darken even more. Peeling ability is increased towards the end of the season as well.
Fairchild tangerines were developed in the early 1960s by J.R. Furr of the United State Department of Agriculture’s now closed Date and Citrus Station in Indio, California. It was released in 1964 and at the time was said to be an exceptionally early variety of high quality. Fairchild tangerines are one of the most planted varieties in California and are also grown in Arizona. They can be spotted in grocery stores across the United States and in home gardens in warm climates.
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