Satsuma Mandarin, Citrus unshiu Marcovitch
Botanically, the fruit of tangerines and of all citrus species, is a special berry known as an hesperidium. Fruit is medium to small and shaped like a flattened sphere; sometimes slightly necked; seedless (0 to 6 seeds, if any); has 10 to 12 segments that are loosely separable; tough carpellary membranes and a hollow axis.
Grown in cool subtropical regions of Japan, Spain, central China, Korea, Turkey, along the Black Sea in Russia, southern South Africa, South America, and on a small scale in central California and northern Florida. The world's largest satsuma industry is located in southern Japan where climatic conditions are favorable for the production of early ripening satsuma tangerines of high quality.
One of the most distinctive features of these citrus fruits is that when they are peeled, the segments of the fruit separate easily. These medium to small fruits are usually bright orange in color, are seedless and have a fresh sweet taste. They are shaped like a flattened sphere and are often found in the market with the stems and leaves still attached. The rind is thin and somewhat leathery, moderately smooth with large oil glands. As the fruit matures, the surface becomes increasingly bumpy and the rind separates from the flesh, somewhat.
Its delectably sweet pulp is sometimes slightly tart and is almost always seedless. The Satsuma is quite aromatic and less acidic than other mandarins. It is delicious in salads, stir-frys, stuffings, tarts, custards, and other desserts.
Satsuma mandarin may have originated in China but it was first reported in Japan more than 700 years ago where it is now the major cultivar grown. The first recorded introduction into the United States was in Florida by George R. Hall in 1876. The name "satsuma" is credited to the wife of a United States minister to Japan, General Van Valkenberg, who sent trees home in 1878 from Satsuma, the name of a former province, now Kagoshima Prefecture, on the southern tip of Kyushu Island, where it is believed to have originated.
During the period 1908-1911, approximately a million 'Owari' satsuma trees were imported from Japan and planted throughout the lower Gulf Coast states from the northern Florida Gulf coast to Texas, where an extensive tangerine industry developed. However occasional severe freezes have reduced the satsuma to a cultivar of minor importance.
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