Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Gi-normous. Ugly. Meet the Delicious Shasta Tangerine

Sometimes Henry's surprises me. Today's trip to their Pt. Loma store found me staring at the largest, homeliest tangerine I think I've ever seen. And, now I'm in love.


The Shasta tangerine, known as Shasta Mandarins or Shasta Golds, are a relatively new variety. Released by the University of California, Riverside as TDE2 in 2002, they were derived from crossing Tangors, Dancy and Encore mandarin varieties (hence "TDE"). They're easy to peel, seedless, and run to the juicy tart side like Minneolas--another favorite of mine. In other words, delicious. And, they're in season from mid-March through May.

According to produce manager Robert Delgado, these Shastas are from Ivanhoe, a small town near Visalia in the San Joaquin Valley. "I've seen them before but usually they're considered a specialty item like pluots," Delgado told me. They must have a bumper crop this year because the store is selling them for 77 cents a pound (the other, bigger deal is the naval oranges at 15 cents a pound -- no, not a typo).

So, just how big are these tangerines? The one above on the right weighed in at 1 pound and a quarter and it wasn't the biggest in the bins. But, don't let that put you off. Even huge, they are a terrific eating fruit and tomorrow will likely see the whirl of the juicer at breakfast.

Henry's in Pt. Loma is located at the corner of Rosecrans and Midway.


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