December- Always a good time for Citrus! This month’s locally grown food features the Mandarin. The Mandarin is a variety of the orange family. There are several types of mandarins, including Satsuma, Clementine, Tangerine and others. The mandarin originated in China. The Satsuma was sent from Japan to the United States in the 1800s. The Satsuma is also the most cold tolerant and that is why it is produced locally, in the thermal belt of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley basin.
Similarly, the clementine was introduced into California commercial agriculture around 1914. The market for clemintines in California was created when the harsh 1997 winter in Florida devastated domestic production, increasing prices and decreasing availability. Clementines are typically sold in net bags. You can tell the difference between the clementine and the satsuma by the skin texture, the clementine is smooth and the satsuma is somewhat leathery, bumpy with large and prominent oil glands. They both sell in large numbers from mid-November through January, giving them the nickname "Christmas oranges" in some markets. They are abundant at the farmers markets so try some!