Clementine Mandarins

Citrus Season is the most wonderful time of the year! Jon takes a look at two of his favorite citrus varieties that are in peak season right now – Clementine and Satsuma Mandarins.

Usher in the holidays with the familiar aroma and flavor from America’s darling citrus variety: Clementine Mandarins! Seedless, fairly easy to open, portable and fun! Clementines, when they’re good, are a hit. The aroma of fresh citrus peel sparks the appetite of those nearby. Peel one in your kitchen and the kids will come runnin’. Peel one at your desk and your co-workers will pop in to “see what you’re doing.” Bring them to a party and a group of “snackers” will gather around creating a pile of rinds over good conversation.

Clemetines Mandarins available during December are the best in flavor, sweetness and peel-ability.

Clementine Tips

  • Select Clementines that are free from brown, discolored areas (especially around the stem) or have visible wet or mold spots in the package.
  • Clementines hold up OK at room temperature for a couple days, but will begin to lose their juiciness or may begin to decay out of refrigeration for too long. I’ve found the California grown Clementine Mandarins hold up better in my own kitchen.
  • Store Clementines in the refrigerator if you don’t plan to eat the whole pack within 2-3 days.
  • Most 5lb gift boxes sold on the East Coast arrive via sea vessels from the sunny orchard slopes of Spain and Morocco. California grown Clementines are often sold in 3lb bags here on the East Coast, even if the store is also offering imported 5lb Clementine gift boxes.
  • Halos brand and Cuties brand California Mandarins are both packed with California Clementines in November, December and into January.

Clementine or Mandarin

The term “Clementine” has morphed in the public’s lexicon to describe any easy-peel, seedless mandarin. But this is not exactly correct. Couple that with the fact that California citrus growers are now selling their product as “California Mandarins” and confusion has emerged in the marketplace. “Jon, should I buy the Clementines or the Mandarins?” “Those California Mandarins were so much better than the Clementines!”

Here’s the scoop: Clementines are a variety of Mandarin. So if you see Halos or Cuties or some other brand at the store and the bag just says “Mandarins” or “California Mandarins” you are in fact buying Clementines now through January. Those Halos and Cuties packages will still say “California Mandarins” in February to April when Clementines are out of season, but the fruit will be a different type of easy-peel, seedless Mandarin called W. Murcotts. The W. Murcotts from California in the Spring taste as good, if not even better than Clementines.

Clementines? Satsumas? Yep, they’re Mandarins and they rock! Jon taste tests some peak season Mandarins.