Let me ask you a question: Do you refrigerate your clementines?
If the answer to that question is “yes," then let me ask you another question: Have you ever taken a perfect roasted chicken and dunked it in the toilet? Have you ever gone to the Louvre and spit on the Mona Lisa? Have you ever known happiness in your entire terrible life?
Do not refrigerate your clementines. Refrigeration turns what should be a delicate, sweet gem of citrus into some fridge-tasting garbage shit.
I know this because I happen to know a lot about clementines. I eat, on average, three clementines a day. Not to brag or anything, but I have received a clementine in my Christmas stocking for every year of my life that I have eaten solid food. When I visit my mother in the winter months—a.k.a. clementine season—she will tell me, mere moments after I walk through the door, whether or not there are clementines in the kitchen. “Clementines in the kitchen, Kate,” she will say, sometimes without even greeting me.
What was that thing that got debunked about how doing something for 10,000 hours will make you an expert? Well guess what: It's true in just one case, which is my case. I have probably eaten 10,000 clems in my lifetime, and I am an expert on clems.
I keep clems stored in my bag, so that I might enjoy them on the subway, at work, and while walking the streets of beautiful New York City. They are the perfect snack for travel. They're a treat not only for you, but for anyone around you who gets a nose full of sweet, aromatic clementine essence when you tear into that soft, room temperature peel.
Just to rule out the possibility that refrigerated clementines could be good, I recently did something that goes against everything I know to be true in this fallen world. The other day, I refrigerated three clementines, and then I ate them.
Here are my notes from that day:
“Hard to peel. The cold seems to have made the pulp constrict, like a butthole. Flavor is sweeter, but in a cloying way.”
Now here are my notes from room-temperature clementines:
(I didn't actually write that note in a notebook. No need. It is seared onto my heart.)
Now, I grew up in New York, and have thus have never spent any meaningful amount of time in a climate that could properly grow clementines. Acknowledging this gap in my clementine knowledge, I considered reaching out to California citrus farmers and other experts to put the question of proper storage to them. I also considered quoting a study that suggested that 40 degrees Fahrenheit (several degrees warmer than the typical refrigerator, but colder than room temperature) is an ideal temperature for storing clems. But ultimately I decided against it.
Do you know why?
I don’t need an expert to tell me that I am right about keeping your clems on the counter. Like manmade climate change, the question of where to keep your clementines is no longer a subject that is up for debate by reasonable people.
When it comes to the proper storage of clems, you are either on the side of progress or you are against it. You either consume your clementines at room temperature, or you eat stone cold trash.