1.The Features of Unshu Mikan in Japan
Unshu Mikan originate in Japan and grow well in warm weather. Because of the fact that they grow while taking in a lot of sunshine, the taste of these oranges is very sweet and rich. When peeling the outer skin, which is easily done by hand, you can see the orange fruit inside wrapped in a thin inner skin. On the inside, the fruit is very soft and the pulp of the orange has a bubble-like texture, making the sweetness spread when put in your mouth.
Unshu Mikan are divided into categories based on maturity. Oranges that are harvested extremely early, from September to October (called Gokuwase), have a thin outside peel and the color is still a little green. The pulp also has a slightly stronger acidity. Oranges harvested from October to December (called Wase), have a light sourness and the sweetness is stronger. Oranges harvested from November to December (called Nakate) are even sweeter. The outside skin of the orange will also become darker. Oranges harvested at the end of the season, from December to March (called Okute)、have a spherical share, the outer skin is thick, and the inside is characterized by a strong sweetness.
2. The Best Season and Production Areas
Seasons for each variety are different, but they all land in between September to March.
Wakayama Prefecture, Ehime Prefecture, and Shizuoka Prefecture are the representative production areas. Certain brands of oranges such as “Akita Mikan” in Wakayama Prefecture, “Ehime Mikan” in Ehime Prefecture, and “Aoshima Mikan” in Shizuoka Prefecture are famous.
3. How to eat Japanese Unshu Mikan in Japan
These Unshu Mikan are commonly eaten by peeling them by hand and eating them straight. Eating these oranges while sitting under a kotatsu (a traditional heated Japanese table with a blanket attached to it) during the cold winter is considered to be a traditional Japanese winter staple. Like other fruits, Unshu Mikan can be used for cake toppings or in “anmitsu”, a traditional Japanese dessert. The fruit juice can be used in juices or in jelly.
These oranges are also used as a decoration for the New Year in Japan.
There are “Shimekazari”, which are decorations made by hand with rope, mandarin oranges, and white paper. There is also a thing called “Kagamimochi”, which is where Unshu Mikan are put on mochi (sticky rice cake) and served to the gods of Shinto and Buddhism.
4. Event Related to Japanese Unshu Mikan
There are some events related to Japanese Unshu Mikan in production areas.