• WHEN TO BUY
Start stocking up now – produce from mid-January to February is likely to be the sweetest.
• CHECK THE BOX
Rather than just picking up a box of mandarins and paying, ask the fruit seller or supermarket staff to open it for you, so you can check that there are no rotting oranges in it. Feel each orange and reject rock-hard ones – it’s an indication that they are dry. The oranges should be heavy, a sign that they’re filled with juice.
• ASK TO TASTE
A more expensive ponkan might not be tastier than a cheaper one –prices are determined by appearance, not sweetness. So it’s worth asking to try the different oranges to check out their flavours.
• PREP THEM QUICKLY
When you get home, remove the oranges from their plastic or paper wrappers and wipe them dry – moisture causes them to turn mouldy. Then pop them into the refrigerator as leaving them at room temperature causes them to dry out faster. For example, lukan and ponkan lasts up to three months chilled but only two to three weeks when left out.
This article was originally published in Simply Her February 2015.