5 minutes on the Corsican clementine

Distinguished by its dark green tapered leaves, thin skin, small size and irresistible flavour, the Corsican clementine is the only clementine grown in France. Here we reveal the secrets of this citrus fruit, brightening up meals and providing vitamin-packed snacks between November and January. It’s a Corsican tonic during winter.

An IGP distinction

Since 2007, the Corsican clementine has benefitted from a ‘Protected Geographical Indication’, a label guaranteeing its quality. To be recognised as coming ‘from Corsica’, the clementine must be cultivated and packaged on the island, picked by hand with its leaves once ripe, and not undergo any colorimetric treatment. These fruit-friendly practices help create a unique, stable and consistent flavour, and recognise the character drawn from the Corsican terroir.

A flavour ‘Made in Corsica’

The Isle of Beauty’s orchards, located on its eastern coast, face lower temperatures than the rest of the Mediterranean. This particular climate limits the accumulation of sugar in the clementines and imparts their recognisable flavour, a balance of sweetness and acidity. It also gives the fruit its orange-red colour. And the final distinguishing feature: it has no pips, which is great for younger eaters.

Never without its leaves

For a long time, the Corsican clementine was the only one allowed to keep its leaves for display on market stalls, since they spared the plant from attack from viruses. While other clementines appear with their leaves today, you can still instantly recognise the tapered shape of the Corsican leaf.

Daughter of the tangerine and orange

In the citrus family, the clementine comes from a natural cross between the tangerine flower and the pollen of the orange tree. In 1892, it was in Algeria, near Oran, that botanist Louis Charles Trabut observed the first hybrid plants in the nursery of a monk named Clément. He christened the fruit in his honour and devoted an article to its discovery in 1902 in the Revue horticole française. And with that, the clementine was launched! The first traces of clementines in Corsica date from 1925, planted by Don Philippe Semidei in Figareto, on the eastern coast.

159

This is the number of passionate farmers who grow the Corsican clementine with the IGP label. Of the 31,250 tonnes of clementines produced in Corsica in 2018, 96% were recognised by the IGP.

A winter fruit

Among citrus fruits, the clementine is distinguished by its early maturity. Harvesting begins in November and ends in the first few days of January. This is why the Corsican clementine is often included among the traditional 13 Provençal desserts.

Confit and jams

Many people like to eat it fresh and juicy, its flavour conjuring up sunny images during long winter days. But the Corsican clementine can also be enjoyed in the form of jam (homemade, of course) or candied, as whole fruit or in juice, in sweet and savoury sauces. It’s also used in fish ceviches.