What is the difference between Clementines and Satsumas?

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For me, the deliciously tangy aroma of a Clementine or Satsuma being peeled and eaten goes hand-in-hand with the festive season. At this time of year, there are so many pleasurably calorific foods and drinks around, and these sweet fruits, which come in their own convenient and natural packaging, are one of the few Christmassy things that can be enjoyed guilt-free.

Clementines and Satsumas are in season just when we need them. They’re loaded with vitamin C, so can help prevent colds and flu at a time when our bodies have to battle hard to ward off infections. They’re also a bright and sunny addition to the fruit bowl on dull, grey winter days (and you may find a few jumbled up with nuts and chocolate coins at the bottom of your Christmas stocking…but only if you’ve been good!)

But Is There Any Difference Between Them?

Lets first talk about mandarins and tangerines. Mandarin is the collective name for all small orangey-type fruit (but not the bigger oranges). Tangerines are a variety of Mandarin, and usually have seeds in them.

Clementines and Satsumas are similar to tangerines, but are cultivated to be seedless (although you’ll occasionally find seeds in them due to uninvited bees getting in on the breeding process) and are usually sweeter.

Clementines are traditionally from North Africa, whereas Satsumas originate from Japan. It’s not easy to tell the difference between the two, although the Clementines are meant to have a slightly tighter skin.

To make things even more confusing, different countries use different terms for defining the fruit. And shops have been known to mis-label the various varieties, so you may believe you’re eating a Satsuma, when actually it’s a Clementine!

The Weighty Ones are More Juicy!

As with most fruits, choose carefully and go for the ones that look shiny and healthy, without any bruising or discoloured skin. If you can, try and feel how heavy the fruit are. If they feel light, they’re likely to be disappointingly dry and juiceless.


Posted by Heather Waghorn.