In season right now: Clementines, the orange’s cooler kid brother

by Terry B on December 30, 2009

Sweet, juicy, easy-to-eat clementines are in season and in stores for just a few short months. Come and get ’em.


Clementines are like Oranges 2.0. They’re the cute iPod version of the original, smaller and easier to grab and go. And they’re totally user friendly, with a thin skin that practically zips right off and virtually no seeds. [In fact, according to wiseGEEK, “a clementine with seeds is evidence that bees have been at work cross-pollinating the trees with other fruit.”]

clementineClementines may look like their seed-filled cousin the tangerine, but they’re actually the smallest variety of mandarin oranges.  Grown primarily in Spain, North Africa and California, clementines are rich in vitamin C, no surprise, but they also pack a lot of calcium and folic acid. And they’re rich in dietary fiber and antioxidants. Best of all, they’re just plain delicious. Their honey-sweet flesh and small segments make them perfect for snacking on out of hand or adding to salads.

Generally available from late fall to about February, clementines are at their peak right around the holidays. For that reason, they’re sometimes called Christmas oranges. Typically, they’re sold in boxes like the one shown above. Buy a whole box of these little beauties now, while they’re at their best—chances are you’ll be back for another. And by the way, is Darling Clementines one of the coolest brand names in recorded history or what?


{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Dani H December 31, 2009 at 5:17 am

Whenever I see the Clementines in the store I am reminded of my daughter at age two walking around with one in each hand and juice dribbling down her chin. Love these. I hope you and your family have a safe and happy New Year’s and that 2010 is a fabulous year for you. See you next week.

Terry B December 31, 2009 at 2:45 pm

Dani—What a great visual of your young daughter! And proof that kids learn to love good food early on if it’s made part of their lives when they’re little. I credit Marion with our girls’ love of fresh fruits. I grew up in a household where fruit was pretty much bananas, canned peaches and the occasional orange, but Marion always made sure there was plenty of fresh fruit around and that the girls ate it. And sure, there were also cookies, candies and such around, but these were doled out as little tastes at the end of a meal. As a result, our kids crave fresh fruit even more than they do sugary sweets.

Helmut January 5, 2010 at 10:22 am

A favorite of mine. And they are a wonderful decorative item for the Holidays. Also a memory – Agua de Valencia. Freshly squeezed Grove oranges & cava. A Breakfast of Champions!

Terry B January 5, 2010 at 3:02 pm

Breakfast of Champions indeed, Helmut! Agua de Valencia, eh? Thanks for teaching me how to say mimosa with a Spanish accent.

Chuck January 25, 2010 at 12:56 am

Have you found any Spanish clementines for sale on the Upper east side of Manhattan this month? I haven’t.

Terry B January 25, 2010 at 4:54 am

Unfortunately, Chuck, I’m in Chicago. But I’m still seeing them here, so I’m hoping that means you can find them there. Good luck!

Deb Meidlinger November 8, 2010 at 3:01 pm

I’m very disappointed with the bag of Darling Clementines I recently purchased at Wegman’s grocery store in PA last week . They were very tart, not sweet like they should be. Why are they selling to the grocery stores when the fruit is not ripe and sweet enough. Can anything be done? Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

jolee d December 10, 2010 at 8:50 pm

I totally agree i was very disappointed with the box of darling clementines i recently purchased from a GIANT FOOD in maryland
this week. i had to return them cause they were so so sour you could not eat and at $6.99 a box. yes ! why do they send them to sell when they know they are not ripe

Terry B December 15, 2010 at 4:00 am

Deb and Jolee—Sorry you had bad experiences with clementines this season. We’ve had a couple of batches that were pretty good. With fresh produce, it’s really the luck of the draw.

Chuck December 15, 2010 at 4:52 am

Just bought a box of Spanish clementines today at Citarella on the Upper East Side and, at last, they are really sweet.

ray kramer June 1, 2011 at 11:28 am

where can i order clementines and have them ship to my houce

Jane February 3, 2018 at 2:14 pm

I’m looking for clementines that are from Spain and come in a little wooden crates. Anybody know a place in Twin Cities?

Terry B February 3, 2018 at 10:59 pm

Jane, I’m seeing clementines in supermarkets in Chicago, so I’m assuming they’re easily found in the Twin Cities. Can’t guarantee they’ll be imported from Spain. Darling Clementines, a popular brand, are grown in Chile, Peru, Spain, Uruguay and Morocco.

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