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I bought a bag of oranges a couple of days ago and on a couple of oranges the peel was baggy and loose around the orange. Are those particular oranges any good? What causes that?

  • Oranges (naval?) or tangerines or "Cuties"? What type of orange, please! – Catija May 11 '15 at 16:10
  • @Catija cuties! – MDMoore313 May 11 '15 at 16:39
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    I'm pretty sure it's perfectly normal for Cuties to be loose in their skins. It's part of their "easy-peel" appeal (if you will :P). When I buy them I usually get a mix of some that are practically separated from the skins and some that are more attached. They may shrink a bit as they age, drying out... that's what I've always imagined happening, anyway. Partially because I find they do tend to be a bit drier when they're loose in the skin. They should be safe to eat, though! – Catija May 11 '15 at 16:42
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    @Catija this sounds like a real answer to me, not just a comment – rumtscho May 12 '15 at 14:08
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    @rumtscho I didn't have time to do a full answer with some research to support it but I did want the OP to have an answer. Working on it now. :) – Catija May 12 '15 at 16:13
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Cuties are actually two special varieties of mandarin orange; Clementine and Murcott, touted by the producer as being "E-Z peel" and seedless. They've even produced a video about how to do the "Cutie Curl", essentially a method to remove the peel in one piece.

According to their website, Cuties are typically in season from November through April but which exact species of orange you're actually getting can depend on when you're eating it. This site has an interesting chart:

Cuties varieties available

It can probably also depend on which type of mandarin you're actually eating. In general, mandarins are described as having "loose skins" and, in fact, the "satsuma" mandarin is particularly found to have loose skin, so it's certainly possible that this trait is found in other mandarin varieties.

Personally, I've found that as they age and dry out a bit, the segments will shrink slightly, pulling away from the peel, making the fruit feel loose inside the skin. They usually still taste fine to me, though if they age too much, they can get very dry (like most citrus) and aren't nearly as delicious to eat.

There shouldn't be anything harmful about eating them. It looks like we're at the end of the Cuties crop year (seeing as it's May), so from here on out, they'll be a bit older and more likely to be dry.

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Tangelos and some other varieties of oranges naturally have "loose" skin, not as attached to the fruit inside. It is perfectly normal and should not affect the taste or texture.

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