12 Ways to Use Abundant Mandarins (fruit & peel) including Homemade Sugar-free Mandarin Chocolate - Our Permaculture Life (2022)

At last – mandarin season has begun at our place. We’ve been patiently watching and waiting – every now and then doing a taste test. Now they are ready and the fruit all over the tree is turning bright orange. Yummm….

12 Ways to Use Abundant Mandarins (fruit & peel) including Homemade Sugar-free Mandarin Chocolate - Our Permaculture Life (1)
At the moment, the bowl of mandarins on our table is always full.

Sure, you could buy mandarins all year round, flown in from various parts of the world, but there’s nothing quite like the flavour intensity and nutrient-density of freshly harvested mandarins that are just in season in your local area. Waiting for fruit to come in season builds greater appreciation for each fruit, each taste.

This Imperial Mandarin is the first fruit tree inside our garden gate – a perfect spot to grab a few ripe ones on the way home, or on our journeys out and about.

12 Ways to Use Abundant Mandarins (fruit & peel) including Homemade Sugar-free Mandarin Chocolate - Our Permaculture Life (2)

Besides the Tahitian limes and some lemons, this mandarin is the first of the citrus to come on this season in my garden. We are now closely watching the blood oranges, navel oranges, ruby grapefruits, Buddha’s hand (citron), lemonades, and tangellos.

The kids absolutely love mandarins (Citrus reticulata) and so do I. The fresh uplifting scent of often-peeled mandarin zest surrounds us at the moment. Mandarins are nutrient-dense, full of vitamins, minerals, fibre and phytonutrients.

It’s so great that mid-winter coincides with peak mandarin season – an delicious fruit packed full of vitamin C for helping to the coughs and colds away.

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I grow mandarin for the flavour and nutrients of the delicious fresh fruit of course, but also for:

  • the scent– the flowers have an incredible scent, but so do the ripe fruits. I love the smell when someone is opening a mandarin. It’s easy to make a citrus room spray (I need another post for that one).
  • the colour– orange is my favourite colour – a bright happy positive colour – some walls on the main house are mandarin orange.
  • its abundance
  • its hardiness
  • its ease of growth
  • the versatility of its fruit

7 Ways We Regularly Use Mandarin Fruit

Apart from just peeling and eating the mandarin fresh in the garden, we love them in:

  1. fruit salad
  2. juice– squeezed in a citrus juice – straight or blended with other citrus fruits such as orange and lemondade
  3. salad– segments tossed in
  4. salad dressing– add freshly squeezed juice
  5. dinner– scatter segments on top of a stir fry
  6. teas – dry the the peel and use in teas
  7. baking– sugar-free mandarin and chocolate cake is delicious. I just toss an entire mandarin into the food processor while mixing up a sugar-free chocolate cake, or make mandarin poppy-seed muffins. Here is my recipe forsugar-free choc-banana cake– just swap over the fruits.

There are of course just so many ways to use mandarins – too many ways to describe here. They freshen up breakfast, lunch and dinner. Then there are many ways to preserve mandarin too – bottling, drying, jams and marmalades, sorbets.

5 Ways We Use the Mandarin Peel

To keep enjoying homegrown mandarin flavour well after all the fruit is gone, it’s a great idea to dry the peels. Because I have grown my own, I know there are no chemical residues on the skin, but if you have bought yours, make sure your peel off any stickers and wash them well before drying.

It’s possible to lay them out in the sun for a few days, but if you live in a humid climate like me, a dehydrator might can be handy – or an oven turned on very low. You know they are ready when they are crisp.

Dried mandarin peel is delicious added to things like …

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  1. Soup – toss in a little segment of peel while cooking
  2. Rice and quinoa – add a small segment of peel to the cooking water
  3. Tea – use by itself or as a blend with other teas or herbs.
  4. Baking – grind up and add a lovely zesty flavour to many cakes, biscuits, muffins and icing
  5. Homemade Chocolate – cacao, coconut butter, coconut oil, stevia and ground mandarin peel. Here’s the recipe:

Super-Easy Sugar-Free Mandarin Chocolate

A delicious and healthy treat using mandarin peel, that takes about 5 minutes to make…


  • 100 grams raw cacao butter
  • 100 grams raw, extra virgin coconut oil
  • 30grams cacaopowder
  • 4 drops stevia – or to taste
  • 1 tspn ground mandarin peel


  • Melt the cacao butter and coconut oil over a low heat.
  • Just as it melts, add the cacao powder, mandarin peel and stevia and mix well.
  • Pour into moulds – mini cupcake baking cups work well.
  • Put it into the freezer to set.
  • Store in an airtight container

Dried mandarin peel can also be used as:a gentle face scrub (grind dried mandarin, mix with honey, put on face for 5-10 minutes then wash off) even a moth repellent (place dried peel in your cupboard).

Gifting Abundance

Mandarins have a short shelf life (2-4 weeks). We cannot eat all the Mandarins on this tree in the next few weeks so most places I go, I find myself taking little handfuls of mandarin gifts to share. I love being able to share my produce like this.

12 Ways to Use Abundant Mandarins (fruit & peel) including Homemade Sugar-free Mandarin Chocolate - Our Permaculture Life (3)
Our abundance – our Imperial Mandarin tree is now covered in fruit.

A Little Mandarin History

Did you know that the mandarin, citron and pomelo are the ancestors of most of the other citrus? Mandarins are the only sweet ones of these original citrus and therefore really important to the development of all the sweet citrus we have grown to love.

Mandarin was originally from Southeast Asia but has ended up around the world. It was highly prized in China and the bright golden glow has long been considered to be an auspicious symbol of good fortune and abundance. Originally mandarins were strictly reserved for royalty. Mandarin is actually named after the deep orange robes traditionally worn by Mandarins – high ranking Chinese officials of the Imperial Court.

In 1805 a few mandarin trees were taken to England from China, and eventually they ended up here in Australia where they are now a prized fruit.

12 Ways to Use Abundant Mandarins (fruit & peel) including Homemade Sugar-free Mandarin Chocolate - Our Permaculture Life (4)
A few of the Hickson Mandarins are starting to turn and will be mostly ready from June-August.

Planning for Mandarin Abundance

At our place, we love them so much, we planned our garden to have mandarins from May until October – the entire growing season. To do this, I researched what mandarins were suited to my region and planted a few varieties to keep us in fruit throughout this time. We have:

Early Season Mandarins

  • Imperial (May)is the first Mandarin to harvest each year in my garden. This is an old Australian variety from Sydney (circa 1890). It is a small-medium fruit that is easy to peel and has few seeds. We’ve been eating these for about two weeks already.

Mid Season Mandarins

  • Hickson (June – August) is the very popular mid-season mandarin. It originated in Queensland in 1941. It has bright orange skin, is easy to peel later in the season when the skin becomes slightly puffy and loose.
  • Emperor (June – August) is an excellent large fruit that is easy to peel and segment and has few seeds.

Late Season

  • Honey Murcott (August – September) is an attractive medium-large fruit with excellent flavour. It is sweet and great for juicing.

Plant Mandarins With Complementary Plants

To help Mandarins grow and to make the best use of space in my garden, I plant my fruit trees with a group of complementary plants. For example, underneath my Imperial Mandarin tree are:

  • Sacred basil to attract bees.
  • Aloe vera which likes the shade and can tolerate dry conditions.
  • Comfrey to feed the plant and provide mulch.
  • Brazilian spinach – which is shade tolerant, drought-hardy and works as a living mulch.

Growing Mandarins

For most of the year Mandarins can pretty much look after themselves, but here’s a couple of tips:

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  • When planting, prepare the hole with a good amount of chook manure and water it in well.
  • Place mandarins where they can get at least 5 hours of sunlight. It’s often recommended that they have full sun, but I have observed that in these warmer parts, some of my healthiest looking citrus actually get a good deal of shade through the day.
  • Mandarin plants are drought-hardy, but for good fruiting they do need water and well-drained soil. It’s better to water deeply less often. Make sure you keep up the moisture as the fruit is forming
  • Give a really good feed twice a year in February and August. I use chook manure and compost. (pots need feeding every 6-8 weeks)

Mandarins for Small Gardens

If you have limited space but still would like a variety of mandarins, try:

  • multi-grafted varieties – where a branch of a range of varieties is grafted onto a strong rootstock
  • duo’ planting – where you plant two fruit trees in the same hole. This is sometimes preferable to multi-grafted varieties that may end up having one dominant variety take over.
  • grow your mandarin a large pot – preferably a dwarf variety, although being in a pot will ensure it remains dwarf anyway.

Enjoy the delicious flavours and juiciness of mandarin season!

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What do you do with an abundance of mandarins? ›

Here's how you can put your leftover mandarin oranges to good use in the week after Chinese New Year:
  1. Mandarin Orange Green Tea. Add a zesty spin to your usual cup of green tea! ...
  2. Mandarin Orange Potpourri. ...
  3. Mandarin Orange Jam. ...
  4. Mandarin Orange Salad Dressing. ...
  5. Orange-scented Vinegar Cleaning Solution.
Dec 9, 2019

What can I use Mandarin peel for? ›

  1. 6 Amazing (& delicious!) Ways to Re-Use Mandarin Peel! ...
  2. Marinades. Toss dried mandarin peel into a food processor or spice grinder to reduce to a powder. ...
  3. Spice rub. ...
  4. Adding flavour to cooking fruit. ...
  5. Soup and rice. ...
  6. Stews and slow cooked dishes. ...
  7. Kindling.
Jun 5, 2014

What happens when you eat mandarins everyday? ›

Lower Blood Pressure

Eating fruits rich in fiber help lower your blood pressure levels and live a healthier life. Mandarin oranges contain potassium as well. Potassium lowers blood pressure by helping the body get rid of excess sodium (salt) and by easing tension in the walls of blood vessels.

Can I freeze mandarins? ›

Yes, you can freeze mandarins for up to 10 months. You may find that you can freeze fresh mandarins for longer than you can tinned mandarins because of the texture change of the fruit but it is safe to freeze mandarins.

How do you cook with mandarin? ›

Make the most of mandarins: bake them into cakes and puddings or use them fresh in salads and entertaining platters. From mandarin-infused sticky date layer cake to a crisp mandarin, chicken and cashew salad, this gorgeous fruit will take your dishes to the next level.

Is mandarin peel good for your face? ›

The thing is, mandarin oranges are particularly rich in Vitamin A, C and E and also contain antioxidant properties. It also said to promote skin health by improving skin tone as well as reducing the effects of blemishes, fine lines and wrinkles. Which is why mandarin orange peels can be used as a homemade body scrub.

Can you boil mandarin peels? ›

Gently peel the mandarins without tearing the peels too much, then cut peels into 1/8-inch thick matchsticks. Place peels in a pot of cold water, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Simmer for 5 minutes and strain.

Is mandarin skin good for your face? ›

Mandarins are a good source of vitamin C and E. Both these are essential for healthy-looking skin. Regular intake of mandarins greatly improves the complexion. It also gives you flawless and blemish-free skin.

Are mandarins good for hair? ›

Hair growth. Mandarins are rich in vitamin E and B12. These vitamins are extremely essential for hair to grow healthy, shiny and strong.

Is Mandarin good for high blood pressure? ›

Mandarins contain potassium, a mineral known to help lower blood pressure and keep blood flow moving smoothly.

What happens when you eat too much mandarins? ›

High Amounts Could Cause Cavities

Eating lots of citrus fruits or juices could increase the risk of cavities. That's because the acid in citrus fruits erodes tooth enamel ( 32 , 33 ). This is a particular risk if you sip on lemon water all day long, bathing your teeth in acid.

Can I boil mandarin oranges? ›

As stated before, you can absolutely choose to can mandarin oranges in water. They won't be very sweet though. Therefore, I recommend making a light syrup with either sugar or honey. To make light syrup with sugar: Mix 2 cups of sugar with 4 cups of water and bring to a boil.

Can you dehydrate mandarins? ›

If you want your mandarins to be soft and somewhat moist (like the consistency of a raisin) you can dehydrate for a shorter period of time at the same temperature; approximately 8 hours. When completely dehydrated, these will last for years, but if only partially dried they should be eaten within a few weeks.

Are you supposed to refrigerate mandarins? ›

They may be stored in a cool, dark spot for a few days, but ideally should be refrigerated to extend shelf life up to 2 weeks.

Can I eat mandarin peel? ›

As many would know, mandarin oranges are high in Vitamin C and A. But do you know that its peels are also nutritious too? With a tablespoon (about 6g) of orange peels containing 0.6g of fiber, 0.01g of fats and no sodium, it makes an amazing seasoning substitute without costing your health.

How do you keep mandarins fresh longer? ›

How to Store Mandarins
  1. Refrigerate. Store whole mandarins in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator.
  2. Cover. Or, place mandarins in a bowl and cover loosely with Glad® Press'n Seal® wrap.
  3. Refrigerate. Store in the refrigerator.

How do I make mandarin juice? ›

Stand it upright on one flat end, and cut downward. Avoid cutting too much of the peel, or you'll skip out on juice. STEP TWO: Add all peeled citrus and water into the blender. STEP THREE: Blend until smooth.

Do mandarins have pectin? ›

They use citrus because it is super high in natural pectin.

Are mandarin peels edible? ›

As many would know, mandarin oranges are high in Vitamin C and A. But do you know that its peels are also nutritious too? With a tablespoon (about 6g) of orange peels containing 0.6g of fiber, 0.01g of fats and no sodium, it makes an amazing seasoning substitute without costing your health.

Can you use Mandarin peel instead of orange peel? ›

2 Other citrus fruit zest

If you have other citrus fruit from the orange family, such as clementines, mandarins, or tangerines, the zest from any of these will be a very good substitute because the essential oils are pretty much the same.

Is boiling orange peel good for you? ›

Thanks to their excellent vitamin C content, orange peels help break down congestion and cleanse the lungs. Vitamin C also boosts immunity, and this helps ward off and prevent lung infections. The peels can help you expel phlegm by cleansing your lungs. Enhanced immunity also prevents ailments like cold and flu.


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