MOST POPULAR: PONKAN
TASTE Mostly sweet (with the odd sour one) but not as juicy as the lukan.
LOOKS Palm-sized with a puffy skin that’s easy to peel. They’re not wrinkly like the lukan and are a bright shade of orange. It is the most popular type of orange during the Chinese New Year as they look better and are slightly bigger than the lukan – good as gifts.
PRICE $20 to $30 for a box of 30, from fruit stalls and supermarkets.
SWEETEST AND JUICIEST: LUKAN
TASTE Much sweeter and juicier than ponkans. They’re also good for cooking and baking as they are firmer and can withstand heat better.
LOOKS A little smaller than the ponkan, with a thin, slightly wrinkled skin that sometimes has dark patches.
PRICE $6 to $15 for a box of 30, from fruit stalls and supermarkets.
LASTS THE LONGEST: SWATOW
TASTE Rather sour and not as sweet as the ponkan or lukan.
LOOKS Although they are larger than the latter two, their thick, rough skin is harder to peel and is a lighter orange. But they are the most durable, lasting up to six months in the fridge; the other Mandarin oranges last two to three months.
PRICE $6 to $15 for a box of 30, from fruit stalls. They are less commonly sold in supermarkets as they are less sweet and don’t look as good, which makes them less popular.
VERY FRAGRANT: MIKAN
TASTE Mikans are more sour than sweet but have a very fragrant citrusy scent and are seedless.
LOOKS Small, with a smooth, yellowish-orange skin. They last up to two weeks chilled.
PRICE 50 cents a pair, from fruit stalls.
SUPER-SWEET – A KIDDY FAVE: EMPEROR TANGERINES
TASTE They are saccharine sweet and exude a citrusy scent when peeled. Tip: The early harvest is usually sweeter and can last up to a week chilled. The late season (February) produce is less tasty and lasts only three to four days.
LOOKS They are one-third the size of an average ponkan. The skin is thin, but easy to peel.
PRICE Price is unavailable but it’s sold at fruit stalls and supermarkets.
EASIEST TO PEEL: DEKOPON
TASTE These are seedless, as well as intensely sweet and refreshingly zesty. They have a strong fragrance and the sacs are fleshier than other Mandarins.
LOOKS The bright orange skin is rough and they sport a bump at the top where the stem is that makes for easy peeling – just pinch to break the skin.
PRICE From $5 each, from selected fruit stalls, supermarkets and Japanese supermarkets like Meidi-ya.
ANOTHER HARDY ORANGE: KINNO
TASTE The taste varies from year to year, depending on the harvest. It can be sugary sweet and flavourful, or, like last year’s stock, more acidic and tart.
LOOKS Like Swatow oranges, they have a thick skin that’s hard to peel. They are slightly smaller but are hardy, lasting up to six months chilled.
PRICE $6 to $15 for a box of 30.
This article was originally published in Simply Her February 2015.