Clementine Mandarin - a healthy citrus treat that's sweet, juicy & easy to peel
Clementine Mandarins are most often eaten out of hand, but they are also used in salads, jellies & fish dishes.
Scientific Binomial Name: Citrus reticulata
Clementine Mandarins are most often eaten out of hand because of their sweet & juicy nature in a convenient package - they make the perfect snack. They are also used in salads - often paired with Fennel, blue cheese and other bold flavors where the sweet citrus notes provide a tempering aspect. Clementine mandarins also do well in jellies and preserves given their high brix (sugar) content. Chefs also enjoy incorporating the flavor components of Clementine Mandarins into fish dishes including halibut, flounder, rockfish and other mildly sweet species. Unlike most citrus fruits, the zest from Clementine Mandarins is considered too bitter for cooking.
Select Clementine Mandarins that are slightly soft, yet heavy for their size - indicating a juicy piece of fruit that hasn't been off the tree for too long. Fruit that is very firm tends to be a bit tart - which is common early in the season. The longer these little gems stay on the tree, the more brix (sugar) they will develop.
Once they reach your preferred level of sweetness, place remaining fruit in the refrigerator to extend the shelf life.
The extreme sweetness of a Clementine is both its appeal as well as its weakness. The higher the brix (sugar level), the more prone a piece of fruit is to decay and mold. Avoid Clementine Mandarins that are overly soft or are starting to show even small spots of brown. They tend to develop decay spots on the inside that will first appear as a brown spot on the skin.
Clementine Mandarins are usually available starting sometime in November and are available through most of January. The fruit early in the season will tend to be tart and become progressively more sweet (and consequently more prone to mold) as Christmas approaches.
Clementine Mandarin Nutritional Information
Serving Size: 1 Clementine Mandarin (109g)
Amount Per Serving
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Source: PMA's Labeling Facts
Clementine Mandarins are very low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium. They're also a good source of Dietary Fiber and an excellent source of Vitamin C.
Clementine Mandarins are excellent juiced - pairing especially well with bananas, mangoes and strawberries.
Supplies of organic Clementine Mandarins have improved greatly in recent years. Quite often, the organic fruit will be slightly smaller with some additional scarring - but the flavor should be just as wonderful as the conventionally grown fruit.
Clementine Mandarin Tips & Trivia
- Many credit the creation of Clemtine Mandarins to Father Clement Rodier of Algeria in 1902, but there are earlier historical references to similar citrus fruits originating in Germany, Japan, China, and California.
- Clementines from California are sometimes referred to as "Christmas Oranges" because their available from mid-November through January.
- Satsuma Mandarins and Clementines are often accused of being the same item, just from different coasts in the United States. However, they are two distinct varieties of citrus. Clementines tend to be more popular on the East coast, while Satsuma Mandarins are more popular on the West Coast - both have gained in popularity across the country in recent years.
- If you buy a 5 to 8 lb box of Clementine Mandarins and you notice even one that molds - quickly remove the moldy citrus and refrigerate the remaining fruit since mold will spread quickly. The fruit will have developed all the sweetness it can once mold appears and you'll want to slow down the process as much as possible to enjoy your remaining fruit.
- Sizing of fruit can vary greatly and can also affect flavor & sweetness. Sizing includes "medium, large, jumbo and mammoth". Generally (but not always) the rule is sweetness increases the larger the fruit - but the only way to be sure it to sample before you buy! Don't be afraid to ask your local grocer to let you sample first. A good produce clerk will be eager to help - partly because he or she will likely get a chance to have some too!