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Cooking in Season // Clementines

Tangerine with segments on a white background

That fruit in the produce section that looks like a baby orange is in fact a clementine.  For being so tiny, this little orange packs a lot of goodness. Beside the sweet flavor, they also have good amounts of vitamin C, folate, and potassium.

  • Vitamin C is important in immune responses, preventing infection, wound healing, and allergic reactions. It also increases the absorption of iron in the body and aids in the making of collagen, a protein that makes up connective tissue in cartilage, bone, skin, and tendons.
  • Folate is essential in your body for helping to make DNA and is especially important in fetal development.
  • Potassium is important in keeping your muscles working, especially the heart. It also can help prevent high blood pressure.

Clementines are in season November through January which makes now the perfect time to enjoy them.  When selecting clementines, check that they are soft, have a shiny skin, and uniform color without blemishes.  Avoid clementines that are hard, dull, contain blemishes, or that have mold on the surface.  Fresh clementines will last in your refrigerator for about two weeks.  When not in season you can still enjoy the canned variety, which are usually called mandarin oranges.  Look for them canned in juice instead of syrup.  That way, they are nutritionally comparable to fresh.

Clementines can be used in many recipes from the main course to dessert and from breakfast to dinnertime. They work well in muffins, smoothie, and salad recipes, and can add great flavor to entrees. They can even provide some light flavor to your water by squeezing the juice into it. If you are lucky enough to have access to an abundance of fresh clementines, you can juice, puree, or can them.  Clementines can also be substituted for other types of oranges.  Click here to check out the Top Ten Ways to Use Clementines.

My favorite clementine recipe is Jicama Orange Salsa. It’s the perfect blend of sweet and spicy. You can use regular oranges or substitute them for clementines. It can be eaten with chips or crackers as a salsa, on top of a bed of salad greens, or on top of brown rice with some grilled chicken.


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