Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Joys of the Season: Clementines

Clementines are easy to peel and easy to eat

I hate to see the end of summer and the disappearance of all the fresh summer vegetables. However, that disappointment is quickly forgotten after I taste my first  clementine of the season. These little citrus fruits, relatives of the mandarin orange, are relatively new to this country. They really became popular only in the late 90's, after bad weather ruined a lot of the Florida citrus crop. Their origin is unclear, with both Algeria and China claiming credit for the fruit, but their popularity is growing.

This week, I bought a few clementines from Peru, and they were delicious. All are a bit larger than I'm used to, but the ones I tasted were both sweet and incredibly juicy. What makes clementines such favorites is that the skin zips off effortlessly, and the fruit is usually seedless, which makes eating and clean-up simple. Low in calories and high in Vitamin C, they are downright virtuous food.

The clementine season usually lasts well into January and often February, so you have plenty of time to stock up on these little gems. Today, they come from all over the world, including South America, California, and Spain. Choose fruits that feel heavy for their size and that have shiny, unblemished skins. Even though I live alone, I usually buy them by the boxful. I keep a handful at room temperature and store the rest in the refrigerator. They are the perfect antidote to grey skies and dry air.

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