Why We Like Satsumas

4 Dec

Satsuma Oranges are a holiday tradition here along the Alabama Gulf Coast. Frankly, I was not that familiar with them prior to moving to Fairhope almost 3 years ago. During our first holiday season here, we started seeing Satsumas popping up everywhere. In recipes, in cocktails, in stores and farmer’s markets, in local advertising and newspaper features. “What’s so darn special about Satsumas?”, we asked ourselves.

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about them:

Its fruit is sweet and usually seedless, about the size of other mandarin oranges (Citrus reticulata), smaller than an orange. One of the distinguishing features of the satsuma is the distinctive thin, leathery skin dotted with large and prominent oil glands, which is lightly attached around the fruit, enabling it to be peeled very easily in comparison to other citrus fruits. The satsuma also has particularly delicate flesh, which cannot withstand the effects of careless handling. The uniquely loose skin of the satsuma, however, means that any such bruising and damage to the fruit may not be immediately apparent upon the typical cursory visual inspection associated with assessing the quality of other fruits. In this regard, the satsuma is often categorised by citrus growers as a hit-and-miss citrus fruit, the loose skin particular to the fruit precluding the definitive measurement of its quality by sight and feel alone.

The Chinese and Japanese names reference Wenzhou, a city in the Zhejiang Province of China known for its citrus production. However, it has also been grown in Japan since ancient times, and the majority of cultivars grown in China today were cultivated in Japan and reverse-introduced into China in modern times.

Now, three years later, we are fully aware of the Satsuma & its special qualities:

1) They are seedless

2) They are very easy to peel

3) They are really sweet

4) They are a locally grown product and priced quite reasonably

5) They bring a much needed taste of summer during the chilly winter months

Better yet, you might just get lucky and find someone who has Satsuma trees (they look more like bushes) on their property. A family friend has such a tree and practically begged us to stop by and pick whatever we wanted. They had far more than they could eat and were worried about the fruit going bad. Happy to oblige, we soon returned home with a bulging white plastic shopping bag jammed full with bright orange Satsumas. I tried one — and it was great. I had another, then another … and another.

Go ahead, eat all you want.

Unlike most holiday treats, Satsumas are good for you!

“Guilt free and packed with Vitamin C.”

Now there’s a slogan for you.

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