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No doubt that biggest success in the produce department in recent years has been the marketing of mandarins under the names "Cuties" or "Halos".
People are using these terms to describe all mandarins or tangerines (much to my cirginy). This is just like Kleenex the brand is used to describe all types of tissues. Unlike Kleenex, Cuties, Halos, and every other mandarin does not remain on store shelves year round. The end is coming. So how long do I have left to enjoy these easy to peel, seedless fruit?
When Do Cuties or Halos Go out of Season?
One of the biggest factors that most consumers don't think about when it comes to the end of the season is store shelf space. When May rolls around, peaches, nectarines, cherries, plums, etc start coming into season. Stores need places to put these products. Usually it's at the expense of citrus. It's downsized.
Growers find it harder to sell their mandarins as we get closer to summer, even if they have them in June, although decades ago no one could imagine having them much past Christmas, so we have come along way. But to answer the question of this post, Cuties or Halos season ends near the end of April to early May. It all depends on the retailer, but if you are reading this at it is near the end of April, then this would be the time to stock up.
Are There Other Mandarins Available after Cuties and Halos are Gone?
Even if you can't find Halos or Cuties anymore, you still may be able to find some last season mandarin varieties. This time of year Ojai Pixies are in season and they are one of the best tasting mandarins money can buy. I was fortnate enough to tour an Ojai Pixie grove this year! Also look for Gold Nugget mandarins, another late season gem. You may find them marketed under the Dimples name. I have always preferred those over the Cuties or Halos brand mandarins.
Can You Freeze Cuties or Halos?
One way to prevent a season from ending is to employ your freezer. First, we must ask another question. Can you freeze them? Can you. Of course. Do you want to? Probably not. Fruits that contain a lot of moisture did not do well when thawed. The texture would be awful. Yes people do freeze grapes, but it's usually to be eaten frozen, not thawed and eaten. If you like frozen mandarin segments, then by all means have at it. You could juice them and freeze the juice.
For whole eating your best to enjoy them when in season - when they are done you will have stone fruit to replace it with anyway. Good news is that if you put mandarins in the fridge you should be able to get a good couple weeks of use out of them. As you get close to the end of the season, buy up, so you can have them even a couple weeks after stores stopping carrying them.
Can You Dry or Dehydrate Cuties or Halos?
If you are looking to extend the season, you can dehydrate or dry your own Cuties or Halos. That way can enjoy the flavor anytime of year. Here are a couple options for dehydrators
- Presto Dehydrator - This is your standard circle shaped dehydrator with trays that stack on top of the unit. This is the best value one that I have found.
- Chefman Food Dehydrator - This one I like better. It's more like an oven with 6 slide out drawers and a see through window to make it easier to tell when your fruit is finished drying. It does cost more, but if this is something you really want to get into it's a great option to consider.
Don't want to go through the work of drying your own? You can also buy dried mandarins or tangerines that will be similar in flavor to the Cuties and Halos you love.
- Nutty & Fruity Dried Tangerine Wedges - The words tangerine and mandarin are often used interchangeably. If you like Halos or Cuties, you will like these. The fruit has been separated into wedges and dried. Great snack for road trips and summer hikes.
- Crispy Green Freeze Dried Tangerines - You can also try freeze dried tangerines. Super crunchy, The best option for putting on top of your cereal. They are light so makes it easier to throw into a backpack for a hike.
What is your favorite way to preserve the Cuties/Halo/tangerine/mandarin season? Leave a comment below 🙂