It seems like they have been around forever, but this generally seedless variety of Mandarin orange has only been common in the United States since the late 1990's, when according to Wikipedia, the harsh 1997 winter devastated the Florida citrus crop. Most clementines sold in the U.S. today come from Spain, Morocco or California. They have become immensely popular, at least in my household, due to their intense, sweet flavor, easy peelability and (usual) seedlessness. In other words they are easy and delicious, not a bad combination. Every once in a while though, we get a batch that are neither seedless nor delicious. Apparently the seeds come when they are cross-pollinated with other fruit by bees. Maybe that explains why the ones with seeds generally aren't as good, depending on what other fruits they are cross-pollinated with. While they are nice and juicy when fresh, I like them when they are somewhat desiccated too.

Clementines have become an essential winter citrus in my house, supplanting even the mighty, delicious and now expensive navel orange as our citrus staple, though I generally still prefer a good navel, cara-cara or blood orange to the clementine.

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3 Responses to Clementines

  1. Nick Matyas says:

    Very good posting. I just love it.
    Good luck man with your work. 🙂

  2. Ciao John!
    Hey, I have to challenge that Wiki entry about when Clementines made an appearance. My son was born in ’85, and by the time we was 5 or 6 they were his favorite fruit. He’d come inside and literally stuff every pocket with them and then head out to play. See, I’m truly dating myself…the kid went out to play without a minder. So that puts it around 1990 or so. Not that it really matters!
    What’s up with these ‘Cuties’? A sort of clementine type fruit with a way too cute marketing name? I bought one box and they were …meh. Dry and uninteresting. Never seen them until this year.

  3. John Sconzo says:

    Judith, Im sure they were around before then, but I dont think they really took off until the late 90s. I agree about the Cuties. My favorites are generally the ones that come from Spain. They seem to have the lowest percentage of seeds, though I havent actually studied it. Our current batch is really, really good.

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