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Showing posts with label oranges. Show all posts
Showing posts with label oranges. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Mandarins and Siesta

I just dug my thumbnail into the end of a mandarin orange and even before I peeled back the skin, I inhaled the heavenly sweet smell of orange. I have thought of this smell many times, for even at home now in the U.S. I am able to buy mandarinas, and I frequently do,  and I stick my thumb in the skin to peel them for a lunchtime fruit salad, but I rarely smell any scent, even though they taste pretty good.

I ate two mandarins while lying on my hotel bed, watching the reflection of cars moving along the country road in the glass of an open window. Taking it easy and resting from the morning's activities, and gathering energy to speed off to a game of petanca with friends at 5:00.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Smell of Winter Sunshine

It's probably only a matter of time before we have scratch'n'sniff technology through the Internet, and when we do, I'm going to send scratch'n'sniff e-cards to all my friends and even to myself as a tonic during hectic times. My e-card scratch'n'sniffs will release that delectable odor that bursts out and floats up to your nostrils when you first dig your thumb into the skin of a ripe mandarin orange. Can you smell it now?

Mandarin oranges, and especially the variety known as clementines (supposedly after graftings originating from St. Clement) are widely available in Spain at this time of year. I've just bought my third big net bag of the season, each bag weighing at least three kilos, and I think at least one of the prior bags was five kilos. Mandarinas are about the only fruit that I peel and eat as a snack. I routinely keep a couple at my work desk, as well as a bowl on the coffee table in front of the television. Fresh mandarinas adorned our Christmas brunch table and are a staple in our almost-daily fruit salads. They are so easy and not-messy to eat on the spur of the moment--unlike oranges, which I never peel myself and rarely eat. They taste sweet, but not too sweet, and they smell like sunshine. I am not the only one in our household who eats mandarinas as a snack, as occasionally I find the peel of one or two lying exposed on a table several hours after it encased the small half-moons of fruit. It's one of the few food leftovers I love to sweep into the garbage under the sink (garbage disposals being unknown here, at least to anyone I know), as I imagine that its odor masks those from the more prosaic leftovers.

A Wikipedia article says that clementines began to be popular in the United States when the harsh winter of 1997 temporarily devastated Florida orange production, and that may indeed be the time when I first started noticing them in U.S. grocery stores. I have bought small crates of Spanish  mandarinas (or were they labeled clementinas?) in the Stop and Shop in Middletown, Connecticut, in Butson's Supermarket in Littleton, New Hampshire, at Marsh in Indianapolis, and at Meijer in Cincinnati, Ohio, usually for $5.99 or $6.99 for five pounds. I pay a little less than that--€2.69 for the last three kilos here. Maybe next year I won't even have to do that--we have a mandarin tree in our front yard. It only yielded two mandarins this year, but we are hoping that a forceful pruning will improve production next winter.

Photo by Trevor Parker [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Harvesting the Oranges

When I looked outside on Friday morning, I realized that our orange harvest had begun. For the first time in months, I did not see any oranges on the trees in the grove I see from my bathroom window.

Mind you, I had been wondering whether those oranges would ever be harvested. They have been orange ever since December. Almost all the other groves in the area have been picked clean--those orange trees recently have shown just pretty green foliage. As we have walked by our orange grove for the past several weeks, we have seen bunches of bright orange on the trees, and we also have seen lots of oranges fallen to the ground, where they have remained for weeks on end. If the grove were not surrounded by a barbed wire fence and planted a good six feet lower than the road on which we walked, we would have scooted over to the trees ourselves and picked up the fallen fruit from between the rows of trees. We have been wondering whether these particular trees would ever be harvested, and if not, why not? Certainly there is enough cheap labor to accomplish the picking job. Perhaps the market price is so bad that it is not economically worthwhile to pick this crop?
Indeed, I had just about given up hope that we would ever see the harvesting of these oranges.

Well, I still haven't seen anyone or anything picking fruit. I couldn't go out on Friday morning to inspect, but Saturday morning I walked along the path that takes us by the long field. There was no activity in the area, but I noticed that the harvest wasn't finished yet. About three quarters of the rows that I walked past had been picked and no longer showed any orange spots against the green. But a few rows in the back, the farthest away from our neighborhood, still had fruit. I'm hoping that the harvest will resume tomorrow and that I can see it in action. Meanwhile, this morning when we walked over to our neighborhood recreation area, we noticed that most of the trees are filled with orange blossoms already! I had always thought that the time between orange blossoms and orange fruit was relatively short, but I also had thought that the blossoms came first, and the fruit came just a short time later. These blossoms seem to have sprung immediately from underneath the plucked fruit. Now I wonder how long we will have orange blossoms before they are replaced by green fruit.

We had run into the farmer many months ago, when the oranges were still green, and asked him when the harvest would be done. He had told us "May," which seemed like a very long time from then. It has been a long time, but now, in mid-April, we realize that these oranges have a very long growing season after all.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Oranges Turning Orange

Back in August I noted that the oranges trees that border our Montebello neighborhood had produced oranges, but that the oranges were still green. They stayed green for a very long time. Some time in October--I think it was just after the gota fría--we happened to see the farmer doing some work in the grove early one morning and asked him when the oranges would be ripe for harvest. "Mayo" (May), he said. That seemed improbable to me. After all, the oranges were already really large. But they were also still emerald green.

Now the first Sunday in December, the oranges have turned orange. It's been happening over the past couple weeks, and that prompted me to wonder how, and why, oranges turn orange. Is it similar to the way the leaves on the trees of New Hampshire turn yellow and orange and red in the fall? Do oranges also need warm, sunny days, but cool nights, to turn orange?

I've spent the better part of the afternoon searching on the Internet for information about why and how oranges turn orange, and it hasn't been as easy as I thought. Searching both in English and Spanish, I didn't find much about why they turn from green to orange. I did find a lot about how they can be made orange from green in a post-harvest process called "de-greening," or el desverdizado, so as to make the mature fruit more appealing to the consumer. It seems to be generally accepted both in Spain and in the U.S. to "de-green" oranges after they leave the tree.

But what was even more startling to learn was that oranges, if left on the tree, may actually revert to green after they have become orange. That would happen when the weather turns too warm, because it is cool temperatures that kill the green chlorophyll pigments and allow the yellow carotenoids beneath to show through. It starts getting warmer in May in Spain, so I'm thinking that perhaps the orange grove owner meant that by May his harvest of oranges would be done, because otherwise they would start turning green again. And though green oranges are mature, they are not appetizing to many consumers.

Today I feel doubly lucky. First, I'm lucky to live by an orange grove, and second, to see fruit that is actually orange, still on the tree, and not yet harvested. Now I'm watching to see when these fruits are actually harvested, and whether any turn green again before next May.