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Clementines – More Than Just For Christmas!
Clementines, with their super sweet juicy flesh, are a popular choice at Christmas. They fill people’s fruit bowls with their signature sent, they’re sliced and dried as wreath decorations, or they’re infused into Christmas candles. Their appearance during the winter time truly marks the start of the holiday period and they brighten up any kitchen or dining room with their gleaming orange skin. By the way, their skin also contains a lot of oil which can be bought separately and used in oil burners or diffusers to really enjoy that wonderful, citrusy scent around the home. The oil from the skin is also excellent for aromatherapy, promoting better sleep and relieving stress and tension in the muscles when used for massages.
Most similar to satsumas and mandarin oranges (also known as tangerines), this tasty little fruit is in fact a hybrid between a sweet orange and a mandarin orange, hence its amazing flavour. Clementines are in fact a relatively new addition to the citrus family, having been developed in 1902, compared to mandarin oranges which were cultivated as far back as 3,000 years ago in China and India.
Where and when to find them
Clementines are in season from around November to January, so it makes sense that they bear a strong association to the festive period. You’ll find them around this time in most supermarkets, often stored in crates or boxes with their leaves still intact. Frequently marketed as “Cuties” or “Sweeties”, they are easy to spot in the store, usually with the rest of the Christmas produce. Go for the fruits free of blemishes with a uniform orange colour that are soft to the touch and you’ve found a winner!
Health benefits of clementines
Given its family lineage, clementines share the same key trait as all the other citrus fruits: They are bursting with vitamin C! This vitamin is key in maintaining your body’s immune system and warding off colds and the flu, so it’s kind of perfect that clementines make their appearance just when the temperature drops and these viruses are circulating! They are also only 35 calories a fruit and contain essential minerals such as potassium and magnesium, although in small quantities. They also contain vitamin B6 and folate which contribute to cardiovascular health. In short, they are little nutrient powerhouses! Clementines are a potent source of fiber, keeping your digestion on track and keeping you fuller for longer.
They are much sweeter and less acidic than standard oranges, with a thinner skin that is easier to peel. The skin really does fall off in comparison to other citrus fruits, making them seriously easy to prepare with minimum mess. Clementines contain very few seeds, indeed most of them are seedless, meaning you can avoid that embarrassing ‘spitting-the-seeds-into-your-hand’ situation if you’re eating them in public! They are best eaten fresh, right out of the peel but, if you just can’t wait until Christmas time, they’re just as tasty (although potentially less nutritious) when bought tinned in syrup.
In short, these sweet little oranges are not just to be associated with Christmas but are excellent sources of nutrients and dietary fiber with added healing potential to boot. They are the perfect on-the-go snack for adults and children and we love seeing them appear in the store around winter time!