Posted by: mrpeatie | January 1, 2009

The Incredible, Edible Clementine

Nature's candy.

Nature's candy.

The clementine is an enigma to me. Is it part orange? Half tangerine? A mango? The Cadberry Egg is to easter as the Clementine is to the Christmas holiday. I never see a clementine any other time of year except over Christmas. Maybe I’m just not looking hard enough. Either way, I fricken’ love them. They are a glorious piece of fruit. Small, healthy, seedless, easy to peel, and utterly delicious. It truly is nature’s candy. But where did these little miracles of citrus goodness come from? Glad you asked. 

Clementines are imported mostly from Spain and Morocco. They are a cross between a sweet orange and a Chinese mandarin. The story goes that a clergyman named Pierre Clement from Algeria found a natural mutation in crossing a mandarin and an orange to create the clementine. Others believe they found their way naturally in the soils of Asia before migrating with humans to the Mediterranean.

Commercial production of Clementine began in Spain in 1925 and were first brought to America in 1982. You may recall a deep freeze in Florida a few winter’s back that decimated the citrus crop that season. Clemetines were imported to fill the void and caught on.

The best tip when picking out any citrus fruit at the store is that they should feel soft yet heavy for their size. This indicates a juicy piece of fruit that hasn’t been off the tree for too long.

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