Why Mandarin Oranges Are Easier To Peel Than Navel

Oranges of all types, but particularly Mandarin oranges, are a soccer mom's staple and a vitamin C lover's candy. Branded oranges like Halos and Cuties are a go-to for school lunches and afternoon snacks. We clearly have a penchant for these lovely little citrus fruitsU.S. Citrus shares that over six million tons of mandarin oranges are grown each year. They also have many health benefits, from being chock full of fiber, which helps you beat back cholesterol and control and maintain healthy blood pressure, to vitamins and nutrients that keep the immune system running on all cylinders. Mandarin oranges are the single-serving citrus worth adding to your diet. 

According to the Seattle Times, the popularity of Mandarin oranges has been on the rise since the 1990s when California made this fruit a priority crop, which both usurped and surpassed the once-favorite navel orange. Citrus growers have had to increase their supply to meet increasing public demand for this bright fruit, which begs the question: Why do we love this fruit so much? Many contribute the Mandarin orange's popularity to the fact that they are easy to peel, even for the children who find them in their lunch pouches. But what makes the Mandarin so much easier to peel than the navel orange?

Delicate, thin skin

FoodsGuy reports that navel oranges are indeed tougher to peel as they are more likely to have a thicker and tougher rind than a delicate Mandarin. The thin skin of the Mandarin is more flexible than the navel's, making it easier to peel away from the fruit. If you're unsure how to identify a Mandarin orange, look at its shape, as Mandarins aren't quite as round as the navel orange and are slightly flat on their top and bottom. The Mandarin also has a deeper orange color than a navel orange.

When it comes to taste, Hale Groves says navel oranges are a juicy, sweet fruit, but Mandarins pack an even sweeter punch — but at a cost. They share that Mandarin oranges have more calories than the navel variety. 

If you're a fan of Mandarin oranges, then you have probably noticed they are easier to find in the chillier and rainier months. Per Spruce Eats, Mandarins tend to be at their sweetest at the beginning of November, with the season reaching its end in June. But if you are looking for the sweetest Mandarins, Bristol Farms recommends selecting those fruits that are on the heavy side, as they will be the sweetest.