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In Season – Satsuma Mandarins!

posted on December 18th, 2015 by Keith Tsuchiyama

satsumasSet in the fields of the San Joaquin Valley in the shadow of the Tehachapi Mountains, Johnston Farms is a four-generation farming operation dedicated to giving our customers a taste experience that’s second to none – fruits and vegetables that don’t just look good but provide a flavor experience our customers will remember.

Known as “unshu mikan” in Japan and “wenzhou migan” in China, the name Satsuma, by which it has become known, is credited to the wife of a United States minister to Japan, General Van Valkenberg, who sent trees of it home in 1878.  Satsuma is the name of a former province, now Kagoshima Prefecture, on the southern tip of Kyushu Island, where it is believed to have originated.

Our Satsumas ripen completely on the tree which brings out their rich, sweet, citrus flavor. Their loose, easy-peel skin and seedless sections make them a perfectly delicious easy to eat, healthy snack. The skin is smooth to slightly “bumpy.” Satsumas are often sold with the stems and leaves still attached for a more natural appearance.

Also known as Honey Citrus, Satsuma Mandarins are most often eaten out of hand; just peel them and eat them. That’s what I’ll usually do. It takes me less than a minute to get into the easy to peel, seedless, mouthwatering goodness. Healthy and sweet, these little orange dynamos are bursting with flavor. They’re the perfect size and snack for your child’s lunchbox.

Satsumas are also used in salads – often paired with fennel, blue cheese, and other bold flavors where the sweet citrus notes provide a tempering aspect. Satsuma Mandarins do well in jellies and preserves given their high brix (sugar to acid ratio) content. Chefs also enjoy incorporating the flavor components of Satsuma Mandarins into fish dishes including halibut, flounder, rockfish, and other mildly sweet species. I’ve wanted to throw them into my jello, I thought they would be a perfect complement, but unfortunately, they tend to disappear from the fruit bowl before they make it into my recipe.

Selection and Storage:

Select Satsuma Mandarins that are slightly soft, yet heavy for their size – indicating a juicy piece of fruit that hasn’t been off the tree for too long. Fruit that is very firm tends to be a bit tart – which is common early in the season. The longer these little gems stay on the tree, the more brix they will develop. When purchasing these mandarins avoid fruit that feels light for its size and appears to have thin, dry skin, a sure sign of older, dehydrated fruit. Fresh Satsuma Mandarins can be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks but we suggest that you buy them as needed to ensure you’re eating experience is one you’ll continue to receive throughout the season.


Considered one of the super foods in the industry, Satsumas are very high in vitamin C.

One “average-size” piece of fruit contains:

Vitamin A: 420 I.U. per 100 gram
Vitamin B: Thiamin .07 mg
Riboflavin .03 gram
Niacin .2 gram
Vitamin C: 31 mg
Carbohydrates: 10.9 gram
Calcium: 33 mg
Iron: .4 mg
Phosphorous: 23 mg
Potassium: 110 mg



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