Seedless, delicately sweet and a breeze to peel, satsuma oranges are fruit that seem destined to travel. And travel they have: There are still satsuma groves near New Orleans, Louisiana that were started by 18th century Jesuits from Europe, who in turn had brought the fruit originally from Japan. Even now, towns along the US Gulf Coast bear the name of this mandarin.
Considering that satsuma trees are known for being relatively thorn-free, we're somewhat surprised that entire US states in the South haven't also been named after this finger-friendly citrus. (Anyone who's spent time battling plant thorns knows not to underestimate such a convenience.) Perhaps the fact that most canned mandarin orange slices -- a "must" for our Southern ambrosia or upside-down cakes -- specifically come from satsumas is what makes us love that little orange dandy all the more.
However, satsumas do have one teensy, tiny drawback that all mandarin varieties share: acid that multiplies as we chain-peel and snack on one orange after another. Mandarins may be small, but their acid is mighty! Although satsumas are an ideal snack, make sure that you don't indulge in too much of a good thing, or you'll become well-acquainted with H2 blockers.
Over-indulgence aside, the satsuma mandarin's vitamin C content adds yet another point to its favorability quotient. The healthy timing for satsumas is not a moment too soon for our taste: Flu season looms in the near future, and satsumas are a sweet dose of C, beta carotene, potassium and dietary fiber, packed into a 30-calorie fruit.
Heading out? Take a few satsumas with you; they travel light.