When something works on a food blog, the writer is bound to go to the well again. My What is the Difference Between Cuties and Halos post has been my most popular post during the winter months ever since I wrote it. I have been thrilled to inform people what these fruits really are with the hope that they won't let the terms Halos and/or Cuties become the next Kleenex (they are facial tissues!).
The reason why these brands are so popular besides just clever marketing is that because these smiley faced fruits are easy to peel mandarins. We are a culture that is in a hurry. We don't have the time to peel our oranges or the patience. Of course there are those that may not have the dexterity to do it for one reason or another.
But why are these mandarins easy to peel.
Why are Halos and Cuties So Easy to Peel?
First, you have to ask the question, what are they easy to peel in comparison too? I think whatever is thinking of is the Navel orange. Most people refer to Halos, Cuties, and any non-brand named mandarin has an orange, even though technically they are different type of citrus - they are mandarins. The terms mandarins and tangerines are often used interchangeable. Most grocery stores can seem to make up their minds. I am going to use the word "mandarin" as that is the term I have come to prefer.
I think there are three main reasons why people find these fruits to be easier to peel.
The peel is thinner
The peel on a mandarin is much thinner than a Navel orange. Since the peel is thinner it is easier to peel. It's a lot easier to get your finger into to get the fruit started. Kids can do it themselves, which is a huge plus for parents.
The fruit is smaller
Mandarins tend to be smaller in size than most Navel oranges - especially at the grocery store where large fruit is preferred. This makes them easier to handle. It's easier to palm the fruit in your hand, even if your hands are small.
The fruit can separate from the peel
Depending on ripeness and specific variety, the peel can sometimes begin to separate from the fruit. You will feel an air pocket between the segments and the outer peel. Theses ones are extremely easy to peel. I usually can do it in one shot (the peel comes off in one piece).
What are Some Other Easy to Peel Oranges
Brand names aside, there are many other mandarin varieties that you will find easy to peel. Here are some names to look for:
Clementines, Easy to peel
Satsuma, Relatively easy especially as get them later in their season (Dec/Jan)
Murcott, Not as easy as Clementine still easier than a Navel
Sumo, As large as a Navel but peels like a mandarin
Gold Nugget, One of the easiest of all to peel if you get them large
Pixie, A tiny knob on top of most of them make them easy to start and peel in one piece
Also Heirloom Navel oranges I find a little easier to peel than a regular Navel orange. Most Navels now have a thick peel which makes them last forever and ship really easily. But this doesn't make them easy to peel. Heirloom Navels are a lot tastier. Check out what makes them different.