Meet the producers: clementines

Learn more about the production of Corsican clementines 

20 December 2017

Jean-Georges and Mireille Marcadal started growing Corsican clementines back in 1976. “My parents were farmers, and I wanted to change from growing vines, so we started out with just five hectares of clementines, and gradually over the years we’ve expanded and now our two sons, Anthony and Vincent, also work on the farm.”

Clementines, he explains have no pips because they are a hybrid between oranges and mandarins. “Mandarins have perhaps a stronger taste but they have pips. That’s why clementine are so popular: no pips!”

The harvest, from October 15 to January 15, is done completely by hand, and only ripe fruits are picked, meaning each tree is repeatedly harvested. The fruit is then dispatched within six days, ensuring it arrives fresh in the shops, with the long, dark green leaves still shiny and soft.

“But we work all year,” says Jean-Georges. “As soon as the harvest is finished, we start pruning in order to have a good harvest the following autumn.” Clementine trees, unlike other fruit trees like apple and pear, are evergreen. “They grow well on the east side of Corsica, because the climate is so mild. They can’t survive frost or wind,” he says. “They’re quite delicate, as trees go.”

Production on Corsica is small, so these clementines are not exported worldwide. “We sell mostly to France, with some sales in Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Belgium. In the UK, we sell to Harrods.”

He is very happy that his two sons have both returned to Corsica after studying in mainland France. “It’s a wonderful thing, all of us working together. My wife still works a bit on the farm but less these days. Both Anthony and Vincent are married with young children, and they love the clementine farm too.”

As for his favourite way of eating clementines, he says he prefers them fresh, straight off the tree. “We eat them as we’re harvesting and they are delicious.” A popular recipe, however, is clementine marmalade, which can be eaten at breakfast or used in other recipes calling for a tangy note.   

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