Monday, 23 January 2017

My Darling Clementine.

Of late, my wife Jennifer & I have been working our way through the recipes in my Jersusalem cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi. In one of the recipes it calls for Clementines specifically and i could see why as they have a very distinct flavour and texture. So i decided i just had to get one to add to my burgeoning collection and popped down to the plant store. When i got there i was faced with a slight dilemma of whether to choose the new, healthy, dark green leaved sapling, or an much older, slightly worse for wear orphan that nobody wanted for much the same price. I decided on the more mature tree in the hope with a little Tender Loving Care he will be healthy in no time and sooner productive. As you can see he has very pale, yellow leaves most probably indicative of lack of Nitrogen and possibly Magnesium so i repotted him up with a good dose of complete Citrus fertiliser and some diluted Epsom Salts. Fingers crossed! It is labelled as Corsica No. 2, a new improved selection of a 'Fina' Clementine. It originated in the 1960's as a selection of Moroccan Clementines made at the Station de Recherches Agrumicoles, San Guiliano, Corsica. It ripens in NZ around June-July. It has good sized, sweet juicy fruit with very few seeds and a tangy flavour. Peels easily and cleanly. Generally crops well.


A Clementine (Citrus × clementina) is a hybrid between a mandarin orange and a sweet orange so named in 1902. Clementine and mandarin oranges are members of the citrus family just like traditional Oranges, but they each taste slightly different. The Clementine is not always easy to distinguish from varieties of Mandarins but through sampling you can clearly taste a difference.  Clementine oranges look like tiny versions of regular oranges, and they have a tart, tangy and rich sweet flavour.  The exterior is a deep orange colour with a smooth, glossy appearance. Clementines can be separated into 7 to 14 segments. They tend to be easy to peel. Clementines are a type of citrus called zipper-peel, which means the skin comes off very easily. They are almost always seedless when grown commercially (without cross-pollination). Their oils, like other citrus fruits, contain mostly limonene as well as myrcene, linalool, α-pinene and many complex aromatics.

Clementines are a highly important North African variety originated as an accidental hybrid in a planting of mandarin seedlings, presumably of the common or Mediterranean mandarin, made by Father Clement Rodier (after whom the fruit was named) in the garden of an orphanage at Misserghin, a small village near Oran, Algeria. It is assumed that the seed parent was the Mediterranean mandarin and the pollen parent a willow-leafed ornamental variety of C. aurantium known as Granito. However, there are claims it originated in China much earlier; one source describes it as nearly identical to the Canton mandarin widely grown in the Guangxi and Guangdong provinces in China.

This variety was introduced into California commercial agriculture in 1914, though it was grown at the Citrus Research Center (now part of the University of California, Riverside) as early as 1909. Clementines lose their desirable seedless characteristic when they are cross-pollinated with other fruit. To prevent this, in 2006 growers such as Paramount Citrus in California threatened to sue local beekeepers to keep bees away from their crops.

For further reading here is an interesting article about Clementines for any hardcore Citrus Nerds by the University of California at Riverside (Citrus Variety Collection).

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