Look, at least you can’t accuse me of being a boring single subject blogger. I could well be a crap blogger but the really fresh subject topic today is citrus-related. Edgy eh.
So I head off to the supermarket to get some tangerines. And I’m presented with a choice of fruits that look mightily similar; clementines, satsumas and mandarins. Do you know the differences between them? Really? I know that one of them seems to be thin-skinned ( the clems?) whilst one is noticeably plumper-skinned (the sats?). But where do the tangerines fit in and the mandarins? Why is it so complicated? I’d love it if the supermarkets described the various fruit’s pro’s and con’s but none of them seem to beyond offering generic stuff like ‘juicy, nutritious and delicious -part of your 5-a-day’. Doesn’t anybody else find these mini-oranges a bit indistinguishable?
So I did a tiny bit of research to find that clementines, tangerines and satsumas are all types of mandarin. Mandarins have been cultivated in China (of course) 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, grown around the Mediterranean, are small, glossy, sweet but sharp and tend to have fewer seeds and a very thin easily peeled skin (some points to me I think for that). They are seemingly named after one Father Pierre Clement who, the story goes, inadvertently bred the hybrid orange in his orphanage garden in Oman. Whatever.
Tangerines, with a looser skin and less sweetness, were named after their original port of origin in Tangiers whilst satsumas (also loose-skinned and mostly seedless) are from Satsuma, the Japanese province in which they were first cultivated (though confusingly they are sometimes called mikans – really, by whom?).
By all accounts there also some cross-pollinated varieties such as Dancy, Tangelo and Ponkans. Oh jeez. Sounds like a firm of solicitors and needless to say, I’ve never heard of them. But if they start displaying them in our local Waitrose I’ll just resort to picking my favourite sort of orange ie the navel or is it a seville – maybe it’s the jaffa, valencia or the blood and what about the luscious sanguinelli? Oh bugger.