When you think of mandarins, you probably think of the smaller version of an orange, right? Something tiny and golden you can fit in a lunchbox or a pocket. And normally, you’d be right…except when it comes to the Gold Nugget mandarin! This mandarin is a giant among its relatives, though still smaller than an ordinary orange, and you certainly get a bit more bang for your buck when you choose the Gold Nugget mandarin over other related fruits.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about this giant of a mandarin, why you need to add it to your list of favorite fruits, and just how much the Gold Nugget mandarin overshadows the rest of the mandarin varieties out there!
Characteristics of the Gold Nugget Mandarin
First, let’s go over the appearance, taste, and tree traits of a Gold Nugget mandarin. You might be surprised by what you find!
Appearance of the Gold Nugget Mandarin
The first thing you’ll notice about the Gold Nugget mandarin is that it isn’t your typical smooth, perfectly round, aesthetically pleasing mandarin. In fact, it actually looks a bit…unappealing, if I’m being honest. Its bumpy, ridged flesh is reminiscent more of wart-covered skin rather than delicious fruit, but in this case, looks are beyond deceiving! Don’t let this ugly duckling of a fruit turn you away—you’ll miss out on all the delicious wonders hiding beneath that beastly exterior.
You’ll also notice, as I said before, that these mandarins are considerably bigger than most other mandarins—they’re closer to three inches, still smaller than most oranges but bigger than classic “mandarin” varieties. This means it won’t be the best lunchbox snack—at least, it’ll take up more room than you might want—but it’s worth the extra space if you’re willing to give up the pudding cup or apple slices.
Taste of the Gold Nugget Mandarin
The flavor of the Gold Nugget mandarin is as rich as its name; you can expect the classically sweet taste you expect out of a mandarin, but double that expectation—this thing packs a punch! They’re also seedless and peeling is a breeze, which means they’re especially handy for snacking. The only downside of sampling one of these bumpy, unique fruits is that they may ruin you for other mandarins, and you might just have to permanently replace all other varieties in your kitchen…and in your heart.
Okay, okay, just kidding. But really, these fruits are truly the cream of the crop when it comes to mandarins! Many people rave about them, claiming their superiority over all other mandarins you might be more used to. I know it can take a lot to drag you away from your usual favorites—and even harder to get your kids to try something new—but trust me, you (and them!) are going to love this mandarin so much, you’re not going to be able to believe it’s taken you this long to get your hands on them!
Gold Nugget Mandarin Tree Traits
Gold Mandarin trees are actually hybrids—they’re a mix between a Wilkling tangerine and a Kincy tangerine! (Tangerines technically fall under the category of mandarins, as do clementines.) They have a middling growth rate, and it can take up to three years for them to start producing fruit, but once they get there, it’s simply impossible to beat them.
These trees do require plenty of sunlight, so you’ll want to keep that in mind when planting—make sure you don’t accidentally put them in the shade of a taller tree! But for the most part, this tree isn’t too picky; it’s resistant to disease and fairly hardy against cold weather, so you can plant them early and harvest early, too!
Uses for the Gold Nugget Mandarin
The seedless quality of Gold Nugget mandarins makes them uniquely well-suited to snacking. They’re also easy to peel, so they’re one of the most low-maintenance mandarins to take along with you on your daily drive (don’t peel and drive, of course! But if you’re safely parked and hanging out in your car, you’re good to go!), as part of your lunch, or otherwise. They might even make a good “Christmas orange” if you’re looking for a stocking stuffer this year!
There are all kinds of options for cooking with mandarins; your mind might automatically wander to sweet options, but there’s no lack of savory roads to explore with your mandarins, either! That’s the great thing about citrus fruits—they’re versatile and balanced, so they make a great addition to both sugary and spicy recipes you want to try out.
Mandarins are good to use in pretty much any recipe you would normally use oranges in, but they’re uniquely suited to things such as marmalades and salads. However, mandarins are also great for recipes you might not immediately think of, such as pizza, salsa, pancakes, and even popsicles!
When is the Gold Nugget Mandarin in season?
The Gold Nugget Mandarin is unique in many ways, and the span of its growing season is no different. The Gold Nugget tree can begin to bloom as early as February—yes, I said February—and can hang on to its fruit as late as August. (Some sources say it can hold on to its fruit well into January of the next year, but that doesn’t seem to be the standard. Still, it does seem that there’s potential for you to be getting fruit for several months throughout the winter if you live in a warmer climate!) If you want to plan conservatively, though, you’ll want to expect your fruit to only hang on until late summer/early fall.
Where is the Gold Nugget Mandarin grown?
Gold Nugget Mandarins can be grown pretty much anywhere; they’re even frost-resistant, so they can survive in somewhat colder climates where other mandarins might not. Still, they thrive best in warmer areas. Be sure to check your growth zone before putting your saplings in the ground to make sure you give them the best start possible to their growth journey!
Though it does take some time for them to start bearing fruit for you, it won’t be long before you have your very own supply of Gold Nugget mandarins in your own backyard. No more frustrating, fruitless (literally!) trips to the grocery store—you’ll have these lumpy gems right outside your back door for snacking, new recipes, citrusy additions to your favorite meals, and anything else you might need a mandarin for!
Final Thoughts on the Gold Nugget Mandarin
Now you know everything you need to know in order to grow, purchase, and/or use the Gold Nugget mandarin to its highest potential! If you can get past its somewhat off-putting exterior, you’ll find a core of delicious fruit, seedless convenience, and endless recipe options to serve you this summer or fall.
There’s no limit to what the Gold Nugget mandarin has to offer, so be sure to track them down the next time you visit your local farmer’s market, or get some saplings sent to you as a “golden” addition to your garden!
Excited for more orange content? Check out our orange trees page to start learning everything there is to know about your favorite citrus!