People often ask what’s the difference between an orange and mikan?
In most cases, in Japan the word mikan refers to a close relative of the mandarin orange known as citrus unshu. Although they belong to the same citrus fruit category, a mikan and orange are different types.
Simply put, an orange has a thick skin, while a mikan has a thin skin. Digging a little deeper you can find other differences, but we should just bite our lip and enjoy the fruit for its great taste. Most Japanese people often associate mikan with Ehime Prefecture. There’s even a Japanese heavy metal band that has a mikan-inspired song about mikan grown in Ehime Prefecture.
The best way to enjoy a mikan is eating a ripe one straight from the tree. Mature mikan on the tree are much less sour, so the perfect balance of sweet and sour found on a tree-ripe mikan is considered the truest flavor. Yet, recently people seem to prefer very sweet mikan. I guess it’s time to think about what the ideal taste of mikan really should be.
Today, most fruit and vegetables are picked automatically using agricultural machinery. Yet, each and every mikan is still picked by hand directly from the branch. Even the stem ends are removed by hand because they can damage surrounding fruit in the net or box. Mikan is the kind of fruit grown with a farmer’s love and devotion.
Mikan taste even better when you bite into one knowing the dedication that went into growing it.
You can use the skin of a mikan in a bath to warm your body, so every part of the fruit can be used. This is a fruit with much love. I’m grateful we have mikan here in Japan.