From our frame of reference Side Hill Citrus Satsumas from Lincoln, in the Sacramento foothills have the perfect mix of sweetness, tartness and low acidity, with very little pulp, no seeds and taste like they are melting in your mouth. Rich Ferreira is a 4th generation farmer who started with only 75 trees back in 1975. Rich has been certified organic since 1991 and now has over 2000 trees. 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.
Satsumas, also called Mikans, are a Japanese variety brought to the US in 1878. Most citrus fruits originated in China and then made their way west which is where the word mandarin comes from. In the United States Satsumas are grown in places where you wouldn’t normally expect citrus to grow. 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.
Satsumas have a loose peel that slips off effortlessly like a glove, with no mess and no seeds to deal with. Satsumas are a perfect snack size that you can eat anywhere without the difficult peeling and complication that comes with eating a valencia or navel orange.
A 2008 U.S. Department of Agriculture study said Satsumas have six to seven times as much synephrine, a natural decongestant, as other citrus. Four or five Satsumas have enough synephrine to equal the effect of a Sudafed tablet, the study said. Satsumas are also naturally low in calories and a single fruit contains 34 percent of the USDA daily recommendation for vitamin C.
Look for fruit 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.
Don’t miss the 25th annual Mandarin Festival this year in Auburn, CA at the Gold County Fairgrounds November 16th-18th. Taste Mandarins from local growers and try a fun variety of Mandarin inspired food including mandarin shakes, chocolate dipped mandarins, mandarin dessert pizza and more. http://www.mandarinfestival.com/