Friday, December 09, 2005

Clementine Vs Satsuma. FIGHT!


The true sign of Christmas being on the horizon is for me the day that there are oranges everywhere. Clementines, tangerines and satsumas seem to be everywhere in December as the gluts of Spanish and North African winter oranges hit the chilly climes of northern Europe and we all go a bit nuts for them. People gorging themselves on mandarins is a common sight in the office in the hope that it will ward of that seasons cold virus. The smell of someone peeling a mandarin is one of those great Christmas smells, like chestnut roasters in Covent Garden, mulled wine at a friend’s house and photocopier toner at office parties.

For the uninitiated (like myself a couple of hours ago) who are a little unsure as the difference between all these types of small orangey fruit then here's a quick heads up. Clementines, tangerines and satsumas are all types of mandarin. Mandarins have been cultivated in China for a couple of thousand years, where they were deemed a fruit only suitable for the upper echelons of society and so were only exported to Europe in the 1900's. Of the various types of mandarin, clementines are smaller and tend to have fewer seeds, a very thin easily peeled skin. They are seemingly named after one Father Pierre Clement who, the story goes, inadvertently bred the hybrid orange in his orphanage garden in Oman. Tangerines, with loose skin and less sweetness, where named after their original port of origin in Tangiers, in fact, the word tangerine was already in common parlance before then as an adjective describing something from Tangiers. Satsuma's are just that. Satsumas from Satsuma, the Japanese province in which they were first cultivated, though, confusingly they are sometimes called mikans.

One potted history of small oranges later, we are left with the fact that for me they say Christmas more than mince pies, toy advertising and comedy visits to casualty at four in the morning after the office party. The stunning bag of clementines awaiting me when I got home tonight filled the house with the heady tang of southern Europe whilst we put up our Christmas decorations.


Anonymous said...

I was the first person in history to first identify the confusion between satsumas and clementines - that was way back in 1997. Make that 1897. Since you have now assumed the mantel of "variety distinguisher" you should also mention the extrememly distinquishing factor of seedlessness of both varieties. God Bless You in your mission.

Monkey Gland said...

I feel truly blessed. I take my mission very seriously. I thank you.

Zina D said...

i have been pondering the differences and comparative merits of satsumas and clementines today. after being struck by a satsuma/clemeting craving this morning (but i didn't know which), i went and bought some to do a taste test. had one great satsuma, then an OK clementine, then 2 below-average satsumas. but in all truth i didn't really know which was which when i got them back to my desk, as they were all stickerless and i had to rely on my colleagues' identification guesses. so the jury's still out.

i discussed this with my flatmate, smed, who responded with a link to this blog post.

but anonymous, i found a seed in a satsuma this morning!

and which are the ones with really annoying skins?

I eat fruit said...

satsumas are much better there really is no comparison u just have to know how to pick the good ones... look for rough skin and a large bulb sort of thing sticking out of the top, the skin color should be darkish but not too dark. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Did a Google search for "satsuma vs. clementine" and I have to say, there truly is no comparison, satsuma all the way!

bruce said...

Anybody fancy starting a campaign to 'save our Satsumas'? Over recent years I have stood back & watched the insidious growth in supermarkets replacing my beloved fruit with the tasteless & sickly Clementine. Every year it gets more difficult to find Satsumas, which used to be such an integral part of Christmas when I was younger.I believe the reason lies in the fact that other European countries prefer the taste of the Clementine causing producers to change but we have stood alone in Europe before & need to rally & start fighting back. SAVE OUR SATSUMAS!

Anonymous said...

I agree that the satsuma easily wins the taste test, but wouldn't blame someone in Belgium for its demise as nobody I speak to knows the difference between the two.