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Setoka oranges are medium to large in size, averaging seven centimeters in diameter, and are round to oblate in shape with a uniform appearance. The bright orange rind is very thin, easy-to-peel, and is smooth with a soft, pebbled texture due to the presence of many oil glands containing fragrant essential oils. Underneath the surface of the rind, there is a very thin pith that is white, spongy, and edible. The flesh is tender, juicy, seedless, and pulpy, divided into 10-11 segments by thin membranes. Setoka oranges have a bright citrus scent that is reminiscent of a tangerine and contains a low acid content creating a very sweet flavor.
Setoka oranges are available in the winter through early spring in Japan.
Setoka oranges are a complex hybrid of multiple varieties and were predominately bred from the kuchinotsu no. 37, which is a hybrid of the encore #2 and the kiyomi, and the tangor, which is a tangerine crossed with an orange. Registered as a new variety in October 2001 in the Nagasaki prefecture in Japan, Setoka oranges were created to showcase the best qualities of each parent variety and are considered to be a luxury hybrid that is prized for its easy-to-peel nature and sweet, juicy flavor. Setoka oranges are somewhat rare and are commonly seen wrapped in Styrofoam to protect the skin from obtaining blemishes. The entire orange can be consumed, and they are most commonly utilized as a fresh eating variety.
Setoka oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C and also contain vitamin A, fiber, and beta-carotene.
Setoka oranges are best suited for raw applications as their easy-to-peel rind and sweet flavor are showcased when consumed fresh, out-of-hand. The fruit can be segmented and tossed into salads, mixed into grain bowls, chopped into salsa, served as a garnish over cooked vegetables and meat, or sliced into yogurt and smoothie bowls. Setoka oranges can also be incorporated into baked goods such as cakes, muffins, and tarts, cooked into jelly and jam, and are also used as cake decorations as the fruit’s flesh is often considered aesthetically beautiful. Setoka oranges pair well with basil, cloves, cinnamon, mint, nutmeg, rosemary, pomegranate, grapes, figs, lemons, berries, bananas, chocolate, and ginger. The fruits will keep up to one week when stored at room temperature and up to two weeks when stored in the refrigerator.
In Japan, the Setoka orange is a rare and expensive tangor, which is a term used to describe a hybrid of the sweet orange and mandarin orange. According to the National Agriculture and Food Research Organization in Japan, the name Setoka came from the beautiful aroma of the oranges and the name of the city, Seto where they are harvested in Japan as a symbol of prosperity. Setoka oranges are also often given as gifts in Japan to coworkers, family, and friends as a symbol of health and longevity.
Setoka oranges were developed in the Nagasaki prefecture of Japan to create a luxury, high-quality variety that was designed for fresh eating. Released in 2001, Setoka oranges are predominately cultivated in Japan and are harvested in the Ehime prefecture, Saga prefecture and Hiroshima prefecture of Japan. These oranges can be found at specialty markets and grocers in Asia.