Miyagawa Mandarin Oranges
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Miyagawa mandarins are a medium to large varietal, averaging 6 to 7 centimeters in diameter and weighing around 100 to 120 grams, and have a round to oblate shape with a slightly lopsided appearance. The mandarins are broad in the middle and have a thin, easy-to-peel rind that is adhered to the flesh. The rind is generally smooth, semi-shiny, and lightly pebbled with many tiny oil glands, showcasing golden-orange to dark-orange hues. It is important to note that some fruits may have a green rind, a coloring that occurs when the citrus is grown in specific regions with varying climatic conditions. Underneath the rind, there is little to no white pith, and the flesh is divided into 9 to 10 segments by thin membranes. The orange flesh is aqueous, tender, and soft with a fine-grained, succulent nature. The flesh is also found seedless or contains a few ivory-tapered seeds. Miyagawa mandarins are aromatic when peeled and have high sugar and acidity levels, creating a balanced, sweet, and tart flavor with bright, tangy, and zesty nuances. Miyagawa mandarins have a more sour taste when harvested early and will become sweeter throughout the season.
Miyagawa mandarins are available in the mid-fall through winter, with a peak season in late October through November.
Miyagawa mandarins, botanically classified as Citrus reticulata, are a Japanese variety belonging to the Rutaceae family. The sweet-tart fruits were discovered growing as a natural mutation on a citrus tree in the early 20th century and are one of the earliest-ripening mandarin varieties produced in Japan. Miyagawa mandarins are a well-known, widely commercially grown variety and were selected for cultivation for their early ripening nature, vibrant coloring, easy-to-peel rind, fine-textured flesh, and balanced flavor. Growers also favor Miyagawa mandarin trees for their cold tolerance, vigorous growth, self-fertile nature, and ability to produce large crops with fruits that hold well on the tree. Miyagawa mandarins are categorized as Wase Unshu, meaning they are a very early variety and are also known as Miyagawa Owase, Miyagawa Wase Unshu, and Waseunshu. In Japan, Miyagawa mandarins are sometimes sold under their prefecture or growing region name as a generic citrus, primarily eaten fresh or utilized in select, cooked preparations.
Miyagawa mandarins are a source of vitamin C to strengthen the immune system, boost collagen production, and reduce inflammation. The mandarins also provide vitamin A to maintain healthy organ functioning, potassium to balance fluid levels within the body, fiber to regulate the digestive tract, and other nutrients, including magnesium, iron, vitamin E, copper, calcium, folate, and antioxidants.
Miyagawa mandarins have a sweet-tart flavor suited for raw preparations. The mandarins are popularly consumed fresh, out-of-hand, and savored for their easy-to-peel, juicy nature. Miyagawa mandarins can be packed in lunch boxes, segmented and tossed into green salads, mixed into fruit bowls, or garnished over fish such as halibut, salmon, rockfish, and flounder. The fruits can also be added to cheese boards, dips, gelatins, or served over desserts such as ice cream, tarts, and cakes. In addition to using the mandarins in segments, the entire orange can be juiced and infused into sauces and marinades, blended into sorbets and granitas, or added to smoothies. The juice can also be cooked into jelly and jams or used to flavor cheesecakes, frosting, panna cotta, mochi, and fillings for pastries and steamed buns. Try adding Miyagawa mandarins to tarts, crisps, cakes, or scones. The mandarin's rind can also be peeled and candied or dried, ground into a powder, and utilized as a seasoning. Miyagawa mandarins pair well with flavorful greens such as fennel, endive, and parsley, cheeses including blue, feta, and goat, meats such as poultry, beef, and pork, seafood, fruits including strawberries, bananas, and mangoes, chocolate, and nuts such as walnuts, almonds, pecans, and hazelnuts. Whole, unpeeled Miyagawa mandarins will keep for 1 to 2 weeks when stored in the refrigerator.
Miyagawa mandarins are intertwined into the story of the Tachibana family in Yanagawa city, located in the southern part of the Fukuoka Prefecture. Throughout history, the Tachibana family governed Yanagawa until the end of the Edo period in 1868. At the end of his family's rule, Count Tomoharu Tachibana, the 14th head of the family, established an agricultural experiment station in Yanagawa in 1886. He planted many different kinds of plants, sourced locally and internationally, and placed an emphasis on citrus due to the region's mild climate. Tomoharu also enticed local growers to participate in agricultural breeding by hosting a yearly competition for citrus fruits. This competition is what inspired Dr. Miyagawa Kenichi to create new citrus graftings, eventually leading to the discovery of the Miyagawa mandarin in 1915. In 1929, Tomoharu's son, Akinori, developed a fruit farm on the family property named Kikko-en to propagate and expand the production of Miyagawa mandarins. Many of these Miyagawa mandarin trees are still found in the orchard in the present day and produce fruits for sale and use at the restaurant on the Tachibana's property. The expansive property is known as Ohana Batake, translating to "flower garden," and was built by Tomoharu in 1910 as an escape for his family. The gardens were placed alongside a large Japanese reception hall, western guest houses, and several other buildings, collectively known as Ohana in the modern day. Ohana was opened to the public in the 1950s and was reconfigured as a hotel and restaurant. Miyagawa mandarins collected from the family orchard are featured in one of the famous drinks known as Hanabatake, a recipe crafted at the restaurant in Ohana.
Miyagawa mandarins are native to Japan and were discovered growing as a natural, spontaneous mutation in the Fukuoka Prefecture. In 1915, Dr. Miyagawa Kenichi acquired unshu mandarin budwood from Tomoharu Tachibana's agricultural experiment station in Yanagawa and grafted the tree onto trifoliate orange rootstock. The trees were planted in Kenichi's garden in Jonai Village, now known as Sakamoto Town in Yanagawa city. Approximately ten years after sowing, a branch of distinct fruits was noticed on one of the citrus trees. Dr. Kenichi selected the new fruits as his entry into the annual fruit competition hosted by the agricultural experiment station, and the mandarin won first prize, praised for its flavor, texture, and early, easy-to-peel nature. In 1921, Dr. Kenichi's mandarin variety was propagated and sold as seedlings under the name Miyagawa Owase. In 1923, Dr. Tyozaburo Tanaka, a professor at the Faculty of Agriculture at Taipei University, studied the variety and distinguished that it was, in fact, distinct from common unshu citrus, naming the new citrus Miyagawa after Dr. Kenichi. Miyagawa mandarins were quickly planted throughout different regions in Japan and were one of the earliest-ripening mandarin varieties produced in the country. Today Miyagawa mandarins account for around 54% of the mandarins produced for Japanese commercial markets. The variety is primarily grown in open-field orchards and is cultivated in the Wakayama, Ehime, and Aichi Prefectures and in the Kanto region, a large area comprised of seven prefectures. Outside Japan, Miyagawa mandarins are cultivated in New Zealand and in the San Joaquin Valley and Riverside in California.
Recipes that include Miyagawa Mandarin Oranges. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Teatime Baker||Mandarin Orange Jam|
|Amandine Cooking||Crème de Mandarine Meringuée|
|Icing on the Steak||Mandarin & Almond Cake|