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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Corsican Clementines

If you are lucky enough to be in Paris during the month of December, you will find an abundance of clementines at pretty much every market or marchand of fruits and vegetables. While quite a few of them are coming from Spain due to cheaper prices and easier transit, the best quality ones are coming by sea from Corsica, in the heart of the Mediterranean.

Clémentines de Corse with the leaves still attached to guarantee freshness

Father Clément (born Vital Rodier in 1839 in Auvergne) is credited with creating the first clementines (hence the name clémentine) at an Algerian Monastery in the 1890s when he crossed a bitter (Seville) orange with a mandarin orange. The orphans at the monastery were thrilled with this sweet fruit that matured earlier than the oranges which they had been growing on their grounds. Clementines were brought to the eastern coast of Corsica in 1925, which is where the vast majority of Corsican clementines are still grown. Today, Corsica produces 98% of all French clementines!

L'Église de l'Assomption in Cargèse

Corsican Clementines received IGP (Indication Géographique Protégée) status in 2007 as an indicator of its quality and origin. To be an IGP certified Corsican clementine, the pickers must leave at least one leaf on the clementine itself when picking. This shows that not only are the clementines picked by hand (it would be quite difficult to remove the clementines from the tree with a machine while leaving the leaves still attached to the fruit), but it is also an indicator of its freshness as the leaves wilt within 5 days of the clementines being picked. Clementines do not ripen in storage, so it is best to eat them as soon as possible!

View of the coast near Ajaccio

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