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It’s Satsuma time again!

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Each year Earl’s eagerly awaits the beginning of the Satsuma season which typically starts at the beginning of November and runs through the beginning of January.  Today we just received our very first shipment of the year and we can expect a limited supply until after Thanksgiving.

The Satsuma harvest also heralds the varietal citrus season. The many varieties will be discussed in future blogs but it is worth noting now that although navels are already on the shelves, they have very low flavor and will not be good to eat until mid-December.  Navels should never be juiced because of a bitterness caused by limonene, a naturally occurring compound found in citrus.

Satsuma’s are a small delicious snack size mandarin with a skin that comes off effortlessly, can be eaten of hand without a mess and contain no seeds. They have the perfect mix of sweetness, tartness and low acidity, with very little pulp, and taste like they are melting in your mouth. 

We think that Side Hill Citrus Satsumas from Lincoln, in the Sacramento foothills are the best tasting, with a variety of tart and sweet flavors that fill your mouth with its rich full flavor.  The combination of a higher elevation of 600 feet, nutrient filled organic clay soil, warm summer days and cool nights and using a Satsuma Owari rootstock from China all contribute to growing consistently delicious Satsuma Mandarins year after year.

Surprisingly Satsuma’s can be grown in areas of the country that are not normally associated with growing citrus.  They need hot summers and a certain amount of chill hours in the winter and can tolerate low temperatures down into the 20’s. Satsumas are grown in California in the thermal belt which runs from the San Joaquin Valley up to north of Sacramento.  They also grow in some southern states like Texas, Louisiana and Alabama where there are mild winters.

 If you are worried about staying healthy this winter eat four or five Satsumas a day to receive six to seven times as much synephrine, a natural decongestant, as other citrus.  Satsumas are also naturally low in calories and a single fruit contains 34 percent of the USDA daily recommendation for vitamin C.

Look for Satsumas with an aromatic smell, firm tight peel, no dented spots and a heavier fruit means they are juicier. They can be stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator, but not for too long because prolonged storage can dry them out.

Remember at the beginning of each citrus season the sugar levels will be lower and the fruit will only become sweeter as the weeks go on.  Before eating, gently roll your citrus at room temperature on your kitchen counter to get the juices flowing. Look for pictures of Satsumas on Earl’s Kitchen Table on Facebook as we track the color and sweetness throughout the season.


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