In Season: Clementines

This small citrus fruits come and go in markets in December and January. Here’s why you should pick up a bunch today.

This little, fragrant citrus fruit makes its way into my kitchen every winter. Here’s why you should pick up a bunch today.

What, Where & When?

The clementine is the smallest variety of the mandarin-orange family. Other varieties in this family include dancy, satsuma and tangerine. Clementines resemble a slightly flattened sphere that’s about two-inches in diameter. They have a thin peel that slips off easily to reveal a tangy-sweet, red-orange flesh. Bonus: they're typically seedless.

Cultivated in North Africa and Spain, these small fruits were introduced to the U.S. in 1882. You'll mostly find them in specialty markets, but many locals supermarkets carry them now, too -- often in larger cases. Their peak season is from October through January.

Nutrition Facts

At only 35 calories and completely fat free, clementines are an excellent snack choice. Eating a single fruit will cover 60% of your daily need for the antioxidant vitamin C. Clementines also contain small amounts of B-vitamins such as thiamin, folate and vitamin B-6 as well as heart-healthy potassium.

What To Do With Clementines

I always arrange fresh clementines in a basket on my kitchen counter for a beautiful kitchen display. This makes them easier to grab and snack on (and they're always a better choice than cookies and chips). A peeled clementine usually makes its way into my 4-year-old's lunch box at least once a week. Once peeled, the fruit easily separates into eight or more sections, which are easy for little fingers.

Beyond plain slices, clementines work well in muffins, marmalades or as a citrus-y burst in a spinach salad. The juice adds extra flavor to lemonades, cocktails and even tea. Here's a tasty drink idea: Add two cups of clementine segments into a large cup and pour in a half cup of hot black tea. Throw in a pinch of cardamom and a touch of honey for sweetness. Dana loves to dip clementine segments in chocolate. She'll share her recipe for that next week.

You will find canned mandarin-orange segments on market shelves, but these aren't usually clementines — they’re a sister fruit called satsumas. You may also see clementine-flavored sparkling beverages, but check the labels to be sure you’re getting the real fruit.

Shopping Tip: Choose fruit with bright, shiny, colorful skin that are firm and heavy for their size. Avoid any that are bruised, wrinkled or discolored. Store clementines at room temperature or in a plastic bag in your refrigerator or crisper drawer for several days.

    Recipes to Try:

Next Up

Spotlight Recipe: Chocolate-Dipped Clementines

Turn clementine segments into dessert for a casual dinner party to serve with tea and espresso. A light sprinkle of coarse French sea salt heightens the flavor of the antioxidant-rich chocolate.

In Season: Raspberries

Raspberries have a sweet-tart flavor and are full of vitamin C and fiber -- a perfect summer berry to enjoy.

In Season: Fennel

Everyone in my family thought they didn’t like fennel until I showed them some easy and delicious ways to prepare it. This cool and crisp veggie is on my weekly shopping list for the summer.

In Season: Guava

Summer fruit have come and gone and the winter weather is upon us. But you can feel like you’re in the tropics (sort of), by picking up some guava. Here’s the lowdown on this fragrant fruit and ways to enjoy it.

In Season: Grapefruit

With National Grapefruit Month upon us (yes, even fruit get a month of celebration), we thought what better time to introduce this refreshing tropical citrus, which is in season now.

In Season: Asparagus

Take advantage of asparagus's short season with these easy recipes and learn a little more about its healthy benefits (including, yes, what causes your pee to stink).

In Season: Cantaloupe

One cup of diced cantaloupe has 60 calories, 2 grams of fiber and 1 gram of protein. This seasonal, juicy melon is full of beta-carotene too.

In Season: Onions

We take onions for granted because you can find them in the supermarket year-round. Freshly picked, however, they're quite a flavorful treat. From shallots to Vidalias, there’s a variety for just about every savory dish you want to cook up. Plus, tips on stopping the tears.

In Season: Rhubarb

I get excited about any produce that’s harvested in early spring because it means the season is getting started! My mother-in-law is growing rhubarb in her garden this year – my job is to come up with things to do with this unique vegetable.