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The Murcott Tangerine is a citrus fruit hybrid of the mandarin orange and the sweet orange. This hybrid was a result of a citrus breeding program within the United States Department of Agriculture.

Also known as the Murcott Honey Orange, it is medium in size, averaging from 2-1/2 to 3 inches in diameter, and has a shape that is typical of a true tangerine. The peel color is reddish orange and may be yellow orange in warmer winters. It is smooth, and while it can be peeled by hand, it is somewhat more difficult to peel than a tangerine. The flesh is a rich orange color. Seed number will vary from 12 to 24 seeds per fruit, and are white in color when cut.

Ripening & Storage: Tangerines are the most perishable of the oranges. They will keep a day or two at room temperature and up to two weeks in a drawer of your refrigerator.

Spinach, Murcott Tangerine  & Cashew Salad Vinaigrette Ingredients: 2 t. Soy sauce, 4 t. Lime juice, fresh, 2 t. Shallots, finely chopped, 4 t. Olive oil, Salt to taste, Black pepper, freshly ground.  Salad Ingredients: 4 T. Cashews, unsalted, coarsely chopped, 2-1/2 C. Spinach, cleaned and torn into bite-sized pieces, 2 Murcott Tangerines, peeled and sectioned.

Vinaigrette Preparation: Place all ingredients in a container with a tight-fitting lid. Shake well. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Salad Preparation: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the cashews on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Place the spinach in a bowl and toss with the prepared vinaigrette. Transfer the dressed spinach leaves to a serving plate. Arrange the tangerine sections on top and sprinkle liberally with the toasted cashews. Serve immediately.

BLOOD ORANGE — Cultivated commercially in California and the Mediterranean, Blood Oranges are named for their crimson to deep-red flesh. They are a natural mutation of an orange, and get their red tint from anthocyanins, a family of antioxidant pigments common to many flowers and fruit, but uncommon in citrus fruits. The anthocyanins will only develop when temperatures are low at night, as during the Mediterranean fall and winter. Due to sparse growing regions, they are usually available only from December through April.

They are slightly smaller than an average orange, and may have a reddish blush to their skin. The flesh ranges from streaky pink to vibrant red to deep maroon, depending on the variety and weather conditions. Whatever the color, sweet Blood Oranges with their berry undertones can be used as any other orange, wonderful eaten out of hand, in winter salads, juiced or baked in desserts.

Ripening & Storage: Store in the produce drawer of your refrigerator. They can last up to two weeks refrigerated, but only a few days if left on the kitchen counter.

Blood Orange Bars  1 c. All-purpose flour, 3 T. Powdered sugar, 1/4 t. Salt, 1/3 c. Butter, 1 c. Granulated sugar, 2 Eggs, 2 t. Finely shredded Blood Orange peel, 2/3 c. Fresh Blood Orange juice, 2 Drops red food coloring (optional), 2 T. All-purpose flour, 1/4 t. Salt, Powdered sugar as needed.

Preheat oven to 350°. Line an 8″x8″ pan with foil, extending foil over the pan edges. Grease foil, set aside.

Crust: Stir together first three ingredients. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter to make coarse crumbs. Press evenly and firmly into pan. Bake 15 minutes or until golden brown at edges.

Filling: In a medium bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, eggs, shredded orange peel, orange juice and food coloring until smooth. Stir in the flour and salt. Pour mixture over the hot crust. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until set.

Cool in the pan on a wire rack until completely cool. Use foil to lift uncut bars out of the pan. Place on a cutting board and cut into bars. Dust with powdered sugar.

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Tracie Burket
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