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The produce world can be a confusing place at times.
We got sweet potatoes sometimes called yams, we called cabbage that looks clearly purple, red cabbage, and what are those little orange fruits that come in 5 pound boxes? Clementines, Cuties, Halos, Dimples, Suki, Tangerines, Mandarins?
The world of single serving, easy to peel citrus can leave one wondering. I am going to shine my years of produce experience on the subject today and talk about what is the difference between the popular Cuties and Halos.
In the process I am doing my part to prevent any of these terms from becoming the next Kleenex (genericized term to refer to all facial tissues).
What is the Difference Between Cuties & Halos?
Are Cuties and Halos the same thing? Is the answer
D) All of the above
If you answered D you are correct! How can that be? Let's start with the most basic thing. Whether it's a Cutie or a Halo it is a mandarin. A mandarin is "a small flattish citrus fruit with a loose skin, especially a variety with yellow-orange skin" (thank you Google dictionary). It does not have to be seedless but in the case of Cuties and Halos, it is.
Cuties and Halos are Two Different Companies
What the name "Cuties" and "Halos" comes down to is marketing names. They are not actual varieties. The name "Cuties" is owned by Sun Pacific. The name "Halos" is owned by Paramount Citrus, who also has the trademark POM Wonderful. Paramount Citrus use to own the "Cuties" name.
A split occurred in the company and Sun Pacific parts with the "Cuties" name. "Halos" is the brand name that Paramount choose as a replacement for "Cuties".
Different Types of Mandarins
Here is something that I don't think most people know. Cuties and Halos are different types of mandarins depending on what time of year it is. They are not always the Clementine variety. In fact, Clementines are only available during the beginning part of the citrus season (from November to January).
The other mandarin commonly used is the W. Murcott. Often I see grocery stores naming even the Murcotts as Clementines as that name sells better. Just look at the calendar and you will have an idea of what you are really getting.
Below you will find what variety is in a box or bag of Cuties or Halos during the season:
Early Clementines, November 1 to Thanksgiving
Clemenules, Thanksgiving to Christmas
Clemenules, Christmas to January
Late Mandarins, January 16 to April 1
Clementines, November to January
W. Murcott, February to April
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Are Cuties and Halos Always Seedless?
Have you ever found a seed or two in either a Cutie or a Halo, or any other seedless mandarin? What gives? Read my post on Why There are Sometimes Seeds in Halos or Cuties.
End of Cuties and Halos Season
The Cuties and Halos brands are NOT in store year round. By spring, usually in May, maybe even early June, they disappear until next fall. For when that happens you can buy mandarins in their dried form. They make for a great snack year round.
Just for kicks, I decided to film my son in the grocery store. I had him pick if he wanted to buy the Cuties or the Halos. I wouldn't call this a perfect scientific study, but he sure is cute making his choice.
If you are interested in learning more on mandarins as well learning about how to better choose fruit and vegetables here is some recommended reading.
- How to Pick a Peach - I can't begin to tell you how much I love this book. I have borrow it from the library many times. The author Russ Parsons breaks down fruit and vegetables by season including mandarins. Russ gives a little history and the information you need to pick better fruits and vegetables. And it's written in a way than anyone, even if you don't know much about food, can read it. One of my most highly recommended books.
Sometimes I am just not happy with the fruit in the grocery store. It's mishandled and picked over. Citrus can be that way. Here is an option for ordering fruit online.
- Pittman & Davis have been finding and shipping quality fruit for over 90 years. They offer many different types of fruit including Clementines and the juicy Florida Honeybells when they are in season.
For when fruit is out of season and your missing your favorite Cuties and/or Halos, you can buy:
You could just enjoy your Cuties, Haloks, Clementines, Tangerines, Mandarins etc as is. But when you got a big box of them why not play around with them a little more in the kitchen. I got a recipe below that will be way better than any orange chicken you find at your closet strip mall.
The recipe calls for clementines but you can use any mandarin/tangerine you want.
If you want the full lowdown the recipe, check out my post - Clementine Glazed Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs. Otherwise scroll down for the recipe.
For the glaze
- 8-10 Clementines
- 1 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice
- 1 tablespoon orange blossom honey
- zest of 3 Clementines
- ½ teaspoon ground white pepper
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
To make the glaze
- Start by peeling 8-10 Clementines and place them into a blender or a container and use a stick blender.
- Place a sieve over a sauce pan and pour the mixture through it.
- Add remaining glaze ingredients
- Bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium, so you don’t boil over.
- Stir frequently.
- Cook until the juice it has begun to thicken and is almost a syrup like consistency, but not quite.
- Taste the glaze. Add more seasonings if necessary.
To prepare the chicken
- Season with kosher salt. Then grab a large skillet or electric skillet, and place enough oil just to cover the bottom.
- Heat the skillet over medium high heat.
- When skillet is ready, place the chicken inside.
- Cook until the chicken pieces have browned all over and there is no pink in the middle.