Before we move totally away from Fall and on to the first official day of Winter, I want to show you what abounds here. Unlike the northern part of the country, where I imagine there are pumpkins everywhere, we harvest a few different things . . .
On a cool evening, in houses up and down the bayou, folks sit in their “front rooms” cracking and eating pecans, peeling and sucking satsumas, and cutting and chewing sugar cane. These satsumas came from a lady a couple bayous east of here. The pecans came from my neighbor’s trees and my mother-in-law’s trees; and she grows the sugarcane in her back yard. Talk about healthy snacks?
If you’re from north of Alexandria, LA, you might not have ever heard of a satsuma, much less tasted one. Once you eat a satsuma, you will never want another orange or tangerine again. At least that’s what satsumas did to me. Their season is short-lived, so we have to consume them in mass quantities while we can!
Satsumas, considered a “citrus mutant” originated in Japan and were supposedly brought to America by the wife of an ambassador. I don’t care how they got here, I’m just glad they did.
If you haven’t had one, I’ll try to do my best in describing them, contrasting them with the familiar. They are smaller than oranges and bigger than tangerines. They are sweeter than tangerines, and milder than oranges. They are very fleshy, but not overly juicy. They are much easier to peel–and some people even eat the skin, because it has a it’s not bitter like other citrus.
And the thing I like best of all? They are almost seedless. You just section those babies out, and let her rip!! Cut a section into small bits, and you have a fantastic finger food for toddlers. Can you tell I LOVE satsumas?
Probably the main reason you don’t see satsumas in wide-spread retail markets is because of their loose skin–bruises are not immediately obvious to the buyer. In America, if something is bruised, we won’t eat it. Therefore, buyers consider it a “hit and miss” citrus. Truth is, there are many small orchards here in South Louisiana, and they do quite well selling at open markets and roadside stands.
Another reason there are no huge orchards is that the trees will freeze, and occasionally it gets below 32 F here. I’ve seen people place 55-gallon drums between rows of trees with fires blazing in them to keep the trees from freezing.
The other sad truth is when we suffer a hurricane tidal surge, the trees may not survive the saltwater inundation. Mine died from the saltwater affects from the five-foot flood after Hurricane Rita in 2005. Here’s my backyard one week after the storm . . .
So, the satsumas are about to finish their season–just in time for the first day of winter. I wish I could ship you some, but you’ll just have to take my word for it—they are out-of-this-world delicious!!!