Corsican Clementine

Clémentine Corse

Hold the fruit lightly in your left hand. With the edge of your right thumb nail, cut a slit through the thin skin, close to the stem. Pull the skin up and away carefully, trying to pluck most of the white strands from the little nostril. Keep tearing at the thin peel, working your way down and around, until the clementine is completely naked. If it is still clutching a few scraps of pith out of modesty, remove those too. Pull the fruit gently apart in two halves, separate each segment and pop them into your mouth, one by one.

Thin-skinned pulpy bites bursting open on your tongue, the juices sweet and fresh and acidulated like candy. And afterwards, all afternoon, that lingering smell on the tip of your fingers. Orange-blossom essence with a hint of bitterness, a fragrance of crisp, bright winter days, for the sake of which you would happily volunteer to peel your friends’ clementines at the school cafeteria — and still do now with your boyfriend.

What distinguishes the Corsican clementine from other varieties of clementines? It is the only clementine produced in France — Spain and Morocco being our top two suppliers — and it can be found on markets and fruit stalls between November and January. Small, delicate and juicy, its segments are snugly enclosed in a thin smooth skin. Its peel displays a slight green tinge early in the season — nothing to do with jealousy or being picked too soon, this happens when fall nights aren’t cold enough to turn the chlorophyll into orange pigment.

Good-natured like all clementines (a sub-variety of mandarins), it has no seeds and is easy to peel. Perhaps even more characteristically, the Corsican clementine is hand-picked and sold with its thin, deep-green leaves still attached, lending it a definite air of elegance, and giving the wise consumer a unmistakable indication of the fruit’s freshness.

This year is a good year for quality, but not quantity — the annual crop will be about fifteen thousand tons instead of the average twenty — so if you stumble upon a crate of these bright jewels, snatch it while you can. Keep the fruit at room temperature and eat them within five days or so: on their own, or use them to make marmelades, salads, a sauce for game, candied peel, etc.

  • Kelley

    We’ve been eating Clementines in Tennessee for about two weeks now and still haven’t gotten our fill. I’m always so happy when the little crates appear at the grocery stores! I’d love to make Clementine sorbet. Do you have any good recipes for that?

  • Pesql

    I may be chauvinistic, but for me these Corsican clémentines are definitely better than the Spanish or Moroccan ones, precisely because they’re tangy and not too sweet.
    By the way, congratulations for your great blog, which is one of my favourites :)

  • http://www.askthepope.blogspot.com/ Pope Benedict XVI

    I’ve had a bit too much marmelade lately. I’ll use them in salds though.

  • Mungo

    Hey Clotilde – clementines make me smile they are so lovely to eat and even just to admire! Just a question has petite anglaise (the blogger girl) done something to upset you? You used to link to her but now I see she’s gone. Just intrigued to know what’s going on! Keep up the good work – we love it!

  • Donna

    Well, they may not have been Corsican clementines, but every Christmas of my life, there has been a clementine at the toe of my stocking. Now, I put them in myself, as I load up the stockings for my family, but my most treasured moment is reaching in to the toe and pulling that fragrant morsel out and raising it to my nose. I go back to Christmases of many years ago and the magic of that moment. I get all gooey inside thinking of it!

    Donna

  • http://randomattentiondisorder.typepad.com cara

    as a new resident of corse, i would love a few recipes that call for the addition of the lovely clementine. corsicans are very proud of “their” fruit, but they don’t seem to do much with them save eating them naturally.

  • Cynthia

    Just last weekend at the Sunday Hollywood Farmers Market, I was deciding how many delightful Clementines to buy. My husband said, “Oh, just get enough for yourself, I won’t eat any”. So, I did – picking enough so I could have 2 everyday in my lunch. What do know – he ate some of them! Next week I will buy double so that I won’t regret sharing them.

  • nbm

    you reminded me that I had a clementine — not Corsican — in my bag, uneaten after several days of being toted back & forth to work. So inhale, everyone, I have peeled it now.

  • http://www.happenstance.net happenstance

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE Clementines. This time of year makes me soooo happy.

    Oh and Satsuma’s are a great close second.

    Vive le tangerine!

  • http://eggbeater.typepad.com/shuna/ shuna fish lydon

    I wrote about these today too! But in California, where they are now, Happily, being grown now.

    lookie here:
    http://eggbeater.typepad.com/shuna/fruit/index.html

    it is always amazing to me that thousands of miles away we are enjoying fully the same fruits in the same season.

  • http://teresacentric.typepad.com Teresa Valdez Klein

    Mon dieu, Clotilde! I’ve never been this excited for a piece of fruit in my life. It’s almost as if I were looking at a sexy man instead of a clementine.

    J’aime bien votre blog.

  • http://5recipes.blogspot.com Susan

    Clementines are like heaven to me. I just finished one of those crates – all by myself. Yum.

  • http://glutenfreegirl.com shauna

    I love that tart tang, the burst of sweetness, the feeling of completion in the mouth. Every summer, when I think about winter, I worry it will be too cold, too dark. And then, in winter, I remember clementines. Satsumas. Meyer lemons. This is a wondrous season.

    Thank you, dear Clotilde, for reminding me.

  • t.a.

    why o why did i have to read this at 11:30 at night when there is no way i’ll even get a tangerine, much less a clementine (which i doubt very much even make it to portland, where i am for a few days, much less corvallis, where i live)? my mouth is now dying for one!

  • http://www.loneykitchen.blogspot.com hchie

    Are these the same as mini Mandarins?

  • julia

    Clotilde, I love clementines and just purchased my second crate of them and they are full of seeds. Are they really clementines or something else?

  • http://www.carablack.com Cara

    Now I have to search the farmers market for Clementines! Clotilde, you mentioned candied peels, which I’ll try, and this is kind off subject but we received a lovely CHAPON Maitre Chocolatier à Paris gift which included not only gold leaf mini chocolate truffles but green sugar dipped mint leaves…crunchy and delic…what do you call these?

  • http://www.sporky.net rebecca

    Woo! I bought a very large bag of clementines at Costco last Saturday. I’ve been going through them at a rate of two to three a day. I can’t get enough of these little jewels. I would love to have a recipe for clementime marmalade.

  • http://loxos.blogspot.com Sandeep

    Oh the way you write!!
    Food is elevated, to a sensual high.

    cheers….

  • http://myfrenchcuisine.blogspot.com/ Estelle

    Reading your blog is soooo addictive! Probably as much as eating clementines :-)

  • http://peelmeagrape.blogspot.com sandye

    oh, clementines! i had my very first one in paris several years ago, the gift of a kind couple who rescued me after i missed the last metro connection back to my hotel on oberkampf. they always remind me of paris and the wonderful time i had there!

  • Nick

    While I’ve enjoyed visiting your blog fairly often, this is the first time I’ve ever been in the process of eating the very food that was the subject of your entry!

    Unfortunately, mine pale in comparison to these beautiful jewels you describe. Far too many of them did not survive the trip from Spain to Baltimore.

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