Wednesday, November 26, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Satsumas, the sweetest citrus

By
December 7, 2010 |

Enterprise columnist

\n

Our region has two specialty citrus crops that are the envy of others — Satsuma mandarins and Meyer lemons. The climate just happens to be right, and they\’ve both been established here for decades.

\n

For some who don\’t live here any longer, Satsumas are a taste from home and a reminder of the holiday season.

\n

Just the other day Diane included half a dozen Satsumas in a package she mailed to our daughter on the East Coast. When we visited our son in Los Angeles over Thanksgiving, we brought him five pounds, an amount that lasts about a week in our household.

\n

The Satsuma season is in full swing. If you never really got into it before, now\’s the time. They\’re cheap and great for kids, who\’ll be drawn to the reliable sugary taste. As for you, the adult, it\’s easy to eat half a dozen or more per day as I do.

\n

Satsumas are fairly small, with a leathery skin that\’s very easy to peel — a big attraction! It\’s also seedless, a second big attraction. Now you see why it should be promoted to children. And once a frost or two has hit the region, which has already occurred, the juices in the Satsuma mandarins turn sweet.

\n

A Satsuma can mature before it gets full orange color, so don\’t be put off if you see hints of green. I bought a five-pound bag on Nov. 14, a bit early in the season to expect a mature, sweet taste. The Satsumas didn\’t look all that good either, with specks of weathering and swatches of green. But I\’d tasted one from the grower who was selling them, and sure enough, they were delicious.

\n

“Cold will bring up the sweetness,” explains Patricia Doering, who with her husband George, grows Satsumas on 11 acres near Oroville. “Rain will take the sweetness back down.” Her fruit finds its way to Davis. I\’ve seen Satsumas as cheap as $1.19 per pound from a local organic farm.

\n

Once you get them home, it\’s important to store them correctly. Satsumas don\’t like to be in the refrigerator, where they get dry and leathery according to Patricia, nor do they want to be on the kitchen counter for an extended period. It\’s best to put them in your garage, on your deck, or in your carport — somewhere out of the way but in the outside chill. They can last a week or two in that circumstance, preferably laid out and not touching each other. We usually keep a handful on a platter in the kitchen, because we like to eat them at room temperature, and those inside are consumed the same day.

\n

A century ago, about a million Satsuma mandarin trees were planted around the U.S. The name derives from a region in Japan. But if we gave a pop quiz right now, chances are you\’d struggle if asked to describe the following: Satsumas, tangerines, Cuties, mandarins, Clementines and oranges. Since all of this produce will be available in Davis over the winter, let\’s do some homespun education.

\n

Imagine all of these on your kitchen countertop. I\’d construct just such a photo to appear here as an educational aid, but some of these aren\’t in season, so we\’ll have to do it the old-fashioned way. Picture it in your mind.

\n

– First of all, the orange. Move that aside. It doesn\’t belong in the discussion. It\’s something else. With that clear, we can move on …

\n

– Satsumas are a type of mandarin, with leathery skin, seedless.

\n

– Clementines are another type of mandarin, often with seeds, and the skin is slicker, even waxy to the eye. It doesn\’t peel so readily.

\n

Remember, both are mandarins.

\n

– The third item is the so-called Cutie, which looks like a small version of the Clementine next to it in our mental construct. In fact, that\’s what it is, a small Clementine. It\’s just a branding effort by the industry to sell them more readily. Cuties will appear later in the winter.

\n

Got it? Satsumas are mandarins, Clementines are mandarins, and Cuties are mandarins. But what about tangerines?

\n

– Actually there\’s no one fruit in our display called a tangerine. The mandarins are tangerines, you see, and tangerines are mandarins. Same thing, just a different word.

\n

While the original use of “tangerine” dates to a tree in the orchard of one N.H. Moragne, who obtained it from Tangiers, Morocco, as early as 1843, the researchers at UC Riverside — seat of all research on mandarins — explain that “mandarin” and “tangerine” are used interchangeably these days.

\n

It also deserves mention that Clementine growers hate beekeepers, unless they\’re far away. Clementines pollinated by bees tend to have seeds. No bees, no seeds. There\’s a big lawsuit as California Clementine growers seek a restraining order to keep hives from being placed on adjoining properties.

\n

We have a thriving Meyer lemon tree in our yard, and if I had the space, I\’d plant a Satsuma mandarin. They\’re not hard to grow. If you have space, I recommend it highly. It\’s forty bucks or less for a five-gallon tree. They\’re sold at nurseries during the winter; best to keep it in the pot, cared for, until spring planting. Is it a potential Christmas present to someone you know?

\n

Don Shor, owner of Redwood Barn Nursery here in Davis, is something of an authority on all things mandarin, in part because he grows mandarins at home, and in part because he\’s the type of guy who makes it a point to know stuff he can recite. Me, I have to go look things up because I remember nothing.

\n

Don notes that the best variety of Satsuma for home planting is the Owari, which is also the best-known. The Satsuma is more of a bush than a tree. It\’s slow-growing, and will take several years to begin having fruit. There\’s no need to prune them, a big plus. They like to be fertilized. Try planting one.

\n

Did I hear you ask, “Do I have a suitable spot in my yard?”

\n

Satsumas like a warm, sunny location. Don has an adage for that: “Where the cat sleeps, citrus grows well.”

\n

There are a lot of simple recipes one can pursue with mandarins of any kind. For that I direct you to http://www.mountainmandarins.com, the growers\’ association in the nearby Sierra foothills. They have a long list of recipes. But in my view, nothing compares to eating them out of your hand.

\n

— Dan Kennedy, a Davis resident, has a long history with the bounty of gardens and small farms. Reach him at kennedynow@yahoo.com

\n

Comments

comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Fremont Weir parking lot remains closed

    By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A1

     
    Occupy movement settles in at UC Davis

    By Tanya Perez | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Time to give thanks for nature’s beauty

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Food fight … in a good way

    By Tanya Perez | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Guard reinforcements contain damage in Ferguson

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    Weather affecting Thanksgiving travelers

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    Second cat-hoarding suspect arrested

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

    LCI marks 50 years with special service

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Pedal around Davis on weekly bike ride

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Happy Thanksgiving from The Enterprise

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Year-end films to see, or not, on KDRT

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    Girls who volunteer may apply for grant

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Round up at the registers for Davis schools

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Davis Community Gift Project brightens holidays for children

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A4

    Speaker proposes changes in humanities doctorate

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
    Senior Center hosts holiday sing-along

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Sutter sponsors qigong for holiday de-stress

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Learn to use Skype at Connections Café

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Boy Scouts start Christmas tree sales on Friday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Volunteers needed to grow plants for habitat restoration

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    Rainbow City community meeting set Dec. 1

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A12

     
    .

    Forum

    She wants more from him

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

    Musings in the wake of Ferguson decision

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

     
    Rich Rifkin: Is it time to be a bear or a bull?

    By Rich Rifkin | From Page: A6

    Planting love at new home

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

     
    Innovation parks comparison

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    .

    Sports

    No excuses, but there’s hope for UCD after 2-9 season

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

     
    Joseph, Manzanares lead 10 All-Big Sky Aggie picks

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    DHS wrestling is not just for boys

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Let’s not lose another good DHS coach

    By Chris Saur | From Page: B1

    Blue Devils prepare for a new season on the mat

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Davis Little League offers early sign-up discounts

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

     
    Kings get past Pelicans

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

    .

    Features

    Salute to non-steamed broccoli

    By Dan Kennedy | From Page: A7 | Gallery

     
    .

    Arts

    It really is ‘The Best Christmas Pageant Ever’

    By Debra DeAngelo | From Page: A11 | Gallery

     
    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    Death notice: Buddy Ralph Mills

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Elzyne Thompson

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Wednesday, November 26, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: A9

     
    .

    Ready, Set, Shop!

    Shop locally: You can have your pie and eat it too

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: RSS1

    Santa’s little helper: secrets to happy holiday shopping

    By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: RSS2

    Make sure it gets there: deadlines for shopping and shipping

    By The Associated Press | From Page: RSS2

    Downtown lights up at holiday open house

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: RSS3

    Full of warm wishes and over-sharing, the holiday card lives on

    By The Associated Press | From Page: RSS4

    Shop smart: Protect your wallet and your identity this shopping season

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RSS5

    Woodland celebrates the holidays downtown

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RSS5