Satsumas: Louisiana Citrus Fruit

Do satsumas grow in Louisiana? And what are they? I have to admit I haven’t really given much attention to satusmas. When I saw the road-side vendor was selling satsumas, I decided to stop and purchase a sack. The vendor said that these satsumas came from Opelousas, Louisiana, and were not very plentiful this year.

bowl of Louisiana satsumas - IMG_1061_1That lead to a search for recipes that include oranges as an ingredient. Of course, I wanted to learn more about satsumas.

I learned that satsumas are a citrus fruit in the family of mandarin oranges, along with tangerines and clementines. They are one of the more hardy citrus crops, along with kumquats. They can be grown in southern Louisiana, up to a line that roughly parallels Interstate 10-which goes east to west. Hard freezes are difficult on this citrus crop, as well as others, and that seems to be the main obstacle in growing them, according to the Louisiana Agricultural Center.

Satsumas originated in Japan and are named for the province in Japan where they were grown. They were sent here in 1878 by the wife of a minister to Japan. Approximately a million satsuma trees were imported from Japan to the gulf coast area around the 1910’s according to the University of Florida IFAS Extension service. “The Satsuma Mandarin” (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ch116)

I found that the satsumas I purchased were easy to peel and section, juicy, and had few seeds. The juice and fruit were bright orange and very tart. It made a nice addition to a fruit salad. I wanted to try something different–with the intense flavors I found it made a tasty sherbet.

The winter months are the best ones to plant citrus crops. I got a Meyer Lemon tree and a Key Lime tree at the Baton Rouge Green tree sale last month. I didn’t see any satsuma trees there, but may look for one if I can figure out where to put another tree in my yard. Might have to be the front yard.

Sources: http://www.lsuagcenter.com/en/communications/publications/Publications+Catalog/Lawn+and+Garden/Fruits/Louisiana+Home+Citrus+Production.htm “Louisiana Home Citrus Production”

University of Florida IFAS Extension service “The Satsuma Mandarin.” (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ch116)

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