This fun trip to New Orleans has been, as always a trip of firsts. I’ve eaten my first turtle, my first mirliton (pickled and roasted), had my first Sazerac cocktail, and now tasted my first Satsuma.
I heard the word Satsuma on the Laura Plantation tour , when the tour guide mentioned it as one of the fruit bearing trees on site. I had never heard of it, so I asked her and she said it was a citrus fruit not quite as tart as an orange, but not quite so sweet as a tangerine. Apparently its only grown in the southernmost parishes of Louisiana, whose climate is considered sub tropical. That’s also the region there were no cotton plantations, only sugar cane below the Louisiana/Mississippi state line.
In the Laura gift shop they sell a bottle of Bayou brand Satsuma flavored rum, which the docent couldn’t speak highly enough of . Kati drinks hers with a topoff of club soda or sparkling water. And, she talks highly of using it to make an Orange Julius at the holidays- which includes cream and Bayou satsuma rum. Since then, two other women highly recommended trying the satsuma flavored rum – the docent at St. Joseph’s Plantation, and a French tourist at Oak Alley Plantation. Needless to say my plantation tour turned into a rum afficianado tour.
The St. Joseph plantation docent was nice enough to let me pick some Satsuma from their tree to take with me. It’s not quite the season, but she said wait a week or so and they’ll be ready. They’re typically harvested in mid-Fall.
The Satsuma is a loose skinned, almost seedless citrus fruit, about the size of a tangerine. It’s sweet and low in acid, They are thought to have originated in China, but come from Japan most recently. The earliest record of their importation to the U.S. is in 1876, by George Hall to Florida. Then it 1878, the wife of the Minister to Japan, Mrs. General Van Valkenberg, sent trees back home from Satsuma, the former province, now the Kagoshima Prefecture, on the southern tip of Kyushu Island, where it is said to have originated. From 1908 to 1911 nearly a million budded trees were sent and planted in the Gulf States, creating a mini-micro industry that apparently doesn’t reach the Midwest.
Well, now I have a new citrus to experiment with and use to make some fun cocktails.