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Clementines: Kitchen Basics


ClementineThe clementine is a small mandarin orange that packs a rich juicy sweet-tangy taste.

The clementine has a thin, smooth, bright red-orange skin that is very easy to peel and delicate, red-orange flesh that is virtually seedless.

Here’s something to keep in mind about the clementine: the smaller the fruit the more intense the flavor.

Clementines—which are also called Algerian tangerines–are thought to be a natural hybrid between a common mandarin orange and the bitter orange.

The peak season for clementines is early to mid-winter.

The clementine is named after Father Clément Rodier who discovered this accidental hybrid in the garden of the orphanage he ran near Oran in Algeria in 1900. It is possible that this small citrus came to Algeria from China, but no one knows. Today the Clementine is mostly grown in North Africa and Spain and California, Arizona and Texas.

Choose. Select clementines that feel heavy for their size. They will be juicier. A clementine should be firm to the touch but have some give. The smaller the fruit the more intense the flavor.

Store. Clementines will keep in the refrigerator for about a week.

Serve. Eat clementines out of hand. Use them to garnish poultry and seafood. Include clementines in gelatin desserts, puddings, custards, and fruit cups.

A clementine is a mandarin orange. The botanical name for the mandarin orange is Citrus reticulata.

Also of interest:

How to Plant, Grow, Prune, and Harvest Citrus

Citrus Tree Pruning

Satsuma Mandarin Orange

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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