Fruit of the Month: Clementines

Fruit of the Month: Clementines
Photo by Graphic Node on Unsplash

Clementines are the small citrus in boxes or mesh bags that appear in markets during the winter months. This year’s crop is tasty, juicy and plentiful (prices are low!).

They’re great for snacking, dessert or in fruit salads. Clementines also make a wonderful addition to almost any green salad, or in my recipes for salads of whole grains and beans. Here's a recipe to get you started:

Spinach-Clementine Salad

  • 6 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 12 clementines, sectioned
  • 1/2 cup walnut or pecan pieces
  • 1 bunch green onions, sliced crosswise (optional)
  • 1/2 cup sliced water chestnuts (optional)
For the dressing:
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Juice of two limes or lemons (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (optional)
Place the salad ingredients in a bowl. Stir the dressing ingredients together and toss with the salad.
4-6 servings

In Canada and perhaps elsewhere clementines may be called mandarins. Technically clementines are a cross between mandarins (Citrus reticulata) and Seville oranges (Citrus auratium). The recipes can be made with any of the tangerine-sized citrus or with oranges sections cut into bite-size pieces.

To prepare clementines for salads, just peel and section. If they are large or you want more flavor from the juice in your salad, cut the peeled fruit in half cross-wise before you separate the sections.

Look for small, firm fruit. I find that the smaller clementines often have the best flavor, although they may be more difficult to peel. If you get a box with poor flavor, look for another “brand” (from the labels) and try again. They come from Spain, Morocco, South America and various other countries as well as the U.S., so they are now available pretty much year-round.  I haven’t found any reliable way to tell which will taste best. If you can find the ones from California (usually labelled “California Cuties”, in mesh bags), they seem to be consistently good.

Orange or lemon peels can be grated (“zest”) for flavoring, but DO NOT try to use clementine peels this way — they are very bitter.

Originally published on DrMirkin,com
Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D. brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is one of a very few doctors board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology.
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