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Hamasaki oranges are small to medium in size, averaging 4-10 centimeters in diameter, and are oblate, squat, and round with a flattened shape. The smooth, glossy skin is deep orange, thin, and firm, covered in many prominent oil glands that create a pebbled appearance. Underneath the surface, there is a thin, almost nonexistent white pith that is loosely adhered to the flesh making the fruit easy-to-peel. The flesh is dark orange, soft, and juicy, divided into 10-14 segments by thin, easily separated membranes. The flesh may also be seedless or contain a very small number of cream-colored seeds. Hamasaki oranges are aromatic with a high sugar content and low acidity and have a very sweet flavor.
Hamasaki oranges are available year-round, with a peak season in the winter through spring in Japan.
Hamasaki oranges are botanically a part of the Citrus genus, growing on evergreen trees that can reach up to seven meters in height and belong to the Rutaceae family. Considered to be a rare variety native to Japan, Hamasaki oranges are commonly grown in controlled greenhouses to create high-quality, sweet-tasting fruits. Hamasaki oranges are a popular variety included in many high-end fruit gift baskets that are given to friends, family, and coworkers at celebrations. The premium oranges are favored for their easy-to-peel nature and sweet flavor and are primarily used for fresh eating.
Hamasaki oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C, which is an antioxidant that provides immune support to the body and protects against illness. The fruits also contain vitamin A, potassium, and folate.
Hamasaki oranges are best suited for raw applications as their sweet flavor and juicy nature are showcased when consumed fresh, out-of-hand. The flesh is easily segmented and can be tossed into green salads, fruit salads, served plain as a snack, or used as a topping for ice cream, yogurt, and grain bowls. The segments can also be dipped in chocolate and served as a dessert, or used in baked goods such as crisps and tarts. In addition to using the flesh, Hamasaki oranges can be juiced and served as a standalone beverage, mixed in with other fruit juices, or blended into smoothies. Hamasaki oranges pair well with fruits such as kiwis, grapes, bananas, and blueberries, spinach, rhubarb, red onions, bell peppers, feta, meats such as pork, poultry, beef, and fish, almonds, and cashews. The fruits will keep up to one week when stored at room temperature and 1-3 weeks when stored in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator.
In Japan, a project was implemented in the 1980s to create art out of manhole covers. This venture was created in an effort to encourage taxpayers to fund expensive sewer projects, and the project was marketed around making the cities more beautiful. Today there are over six thousand different designs found throughout Japan, and each town has a different design according to the personality of the town. One of the manhole cover designs features the Hamasaki orange with a simple illustration of four oranges with leaves and intertwining branches arranged in a mandala-like pattern. Manhole cover art has become increasingly popular in Japan, and art shows are celebrating the many different covers created. There are even food vendors who cook pancakes on top of covers as a novel souvenir at the shows.
Hamasaki oranges are believed to be native to the Saga prefecture on the island of Kyushu, Japan. The origins of the fruit are mostly unknown, but today the oranges are grown in greenhouses at select specialty farms in Japan and are sold at fresh local markets.