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Satsuma Mandarins- Florida’s Local Fruit with Great Health Benefits

Karen Alexander, Licensed Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

February 13, 2021

Satsumas are part of the mandarin orange family, a category which also includes clementines and tangerines. Satsuma mandarins may have originated in China. They were first recorded in Florida in 1876 and have perfectly adapted the Florida climate since then. A single satsuma has approximately 35-50 calories. Satsuma mandarins are an excellent source of immune-boosting vitamin C, pro-vitamin A, potassium, magnesium, manganese, fiber, flavonoids, phenolic acids and many other phytochemicals with important health-related properties. Satsumas have very few seeds, if any, and are super easy to peel (1,2,3).

Health benefits

  • Vitamin A: Vitamin A stimulates the production and activity of white blood cells, takes part in remodeling bone, helps maintain healthy endothelial cells (those lining the body’s interior surfaces), is involved in eye health and regulates cell growth and division.
  • Vitamin C: is important in the synthesis of collagen in the body, which helps heal wounds and holds together our tendons, ligaments, bones and blood vessels. Vitamin C also neutralizes harmful free radicals and improves iron absorption, among other functions.
  • Potassium: is an important part of blood pressure regulation
  • Manganese: plays a role in the regulation of brain and nerve function
  • Magnesium: is involved in the regulation of muscle, heart and nerve function and keeping bones strong.
  • Fiber: is important for bowel health.

How to choose 

  • Look for satsumas with firm, tight peels and without a hollow feeling or dented spots. They should look fresh and might have bright green twigs and leaves still attached; this indicates a high-quality fruit.
  • Skin should be fairly smooth and may have slight greening or a rough brown patch, which will not affect the quality of the satsuma.
  • Heavier satsumas are generally juicier.

How to store– Store fresh satsumas at room temperature for up to five days.

Cooking tips

  • Satsumas are often eaten as a snack out of the hand, but can be added to salads, smoothies and stir-fries.
  • For a sweet and tangy flavor, use satsuma juice in a homemade vinaigrette recipe.

5 fun facts

  1. Satsuma trees are resistant to unfavorable winter weather conditions (3).
  2. Satsuma trees can even be grown in large containers or pots (3).
  3. Unlike other citrus, satsuma does not require fertilization or pollination to produce fruit (5).
  4. The phytochemicals in the mandarin peel’s oil are responsible for its flavor (2).
  5. The longer satsumas are left on the tree, the sweeter they will become (3).

Now that you know about the benefits of satsuma mandarins, look for Florida satsumas at your local grocery store or farmer’s market when they are in season, during winter. They will be a wonderful addition to your diet and your health.

The recipe of the week comes via: Florida Farm to School Fact Sheet (3)

Kale Salad with Citrus Dressing 

(Serves 8-10)

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of curly kale – washed and dried 
  • ½ cup of Florida citrus juice 
  • 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil 
  • 1 clove of minced garlic 
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh squeezed Florida lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar tablespoon Florida honey 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
  • 1 cup of Florida citrus segments 
  • 1 cup of sliced Florida strawberries 
  • ½ cup of sunflower seeds

Directions

  1. Strip kale leaves from the stem and tear into bite-size pieces. Place pieces in a gallon zip-lock bag. 
  2. Put tangerine juice, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake vigorously until mixed. 
  3. Pour dressing into bag with kale and massage until evenly distributed. 
  4. Place kale in a bowl and top with Florida citrus segments, sliced strawberries and sunflower seeds.

References:

  1. https://www.fdacs.gov/Consumer-Resources/Health-and-Safety/Living-Healthy-in-Florida/Healthy-Learning/All-About-Florida-Products/Satsuma 
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/mandarins
  3. https://www.fdacs.gov/content/download/93989/file/satsuma-fact-sheet.pdf
  4. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamins/
  5. https://www.fdacs.gov/ezs3download/download/90584/2579320/Media/Files/Food-Nutrition-Wellness/Harvest-of-the-Month-Published-Materials/ADA-HOM_Satsuma_6-8.pdf
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