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Clementines are in season now, which I am sure you are already aware of. Chances are, you have a box of them on your kitchen counter. It’s that box that I want to discuss today.

What is the deal with clementines in a box? Why can’t they come loose, like all the rest of the citrus family? Or, barring that, at least come in some sort mesh bag.

After hitting Google for a minute or so diligent, in-depth research, the answer to the box question appears to be marketing. Clementines were originally marketed as a Christmas treat, boxed and with a bow, and it’s because of marketing that they have stayed in their boxes. It would appear that those of us who buy clementines will go ahead and buy a box of two dozen, even though we’d prefer to buy them a half dozen at a time.

I have an empty bin from a recent clementines purchase. The bin is a minor annoyance, but one that I’m trying to do something about. I don’t want to just throw away a wooden box, flimsy though it may be. I can’t burn it, because I don’t have a fireplace. And while I’m sure I could break it down and compost it, the effort involved with removing the metal hardware is not worth it.

I once again hit the internet, including with some trepidation, Pinterest. Don’t get me wrong. I adore Pinterest. It entertains me for a few minutes, sometimes much longer, every day. But Pinterest, as so many of us know, is also filled with ridiculous projects that either take far too long or simply don’t work out.

Photo found on Pinterest

As I predicted, the internets (including Pinterest) were absolutely filled with ideas for reusing clementine boxes.

The ideas break down into three groups:

  • using the boxes as-is for basic storage (craft supplies, kitchen items, etc.)
  • putting a tiny amount of work into transforming the boxes into something else (such as painting them and using them as prettier storage bins)
  • rebuilding the suckers into the Six Million Dollar Bin

“We can rebuild it. We have the technology. We can make it better than it was. Better…stronger…faster.”

Found on Pinterest. There's absolutely no chance I'll be replicating this project.

While perusing online, I saw clementine boxes turned into doll beds, wall shelves, mini greenhouses, jewelry display cases, and so much more. I applaud the creativy that went into a lot of these projects, because it helps keep stuff out of landfills.

Still, I’m reasonably certain that there’s no chance whatsoever that I’ll be pulling out paint, fabric scraps, or a circular saw in order to transform trash into treasure.

What I will do, however, is try to reuse the boxes for storage. Probably something like holding bags of pasta in the pantry.

As I was wrapping up this post, I wondered to myself, “I wonder what The Martha would do?” My first thought was that The Martha grows her own clementines in a special greenhouse that she constructed just for her citrus trees. While some slightly-pretentious folks would call their greenhouse an orangery, The Martha would take her name to a whole new level, like the citron domus or Maison d’agrumes. 

As it happens, this post is not actually ready to be wrapped up (but not with a wooden box and a bow).  Because The Martha does, in fact, buy her clementines. While I doubt she’s getting them from her local Piggly Wiggly — they are probably shipped to her from a select grower in custom-built boxes — the fact is, she apparently does have clemetine boxes to deal with, as evidenced by this project and this project. That said, I seriously doubt her granddaughter has a doll bed made from an old crate, just as I doubt The Martha’s personal house plants are currently nestled into planters made from old crates.

What do you do with your clementine boxes? And, if you were a pretentious person who had a greenhouse for your citrus trees, what would you call it?

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18 Responses to Clementines

  1. amy says:

    We have a few that we ‘repurposed’ with paper scraps and decopauge a few years ago. My daughter kept junk in them for awhile. We also use a few in the garage to hold seed supplies. We used to take off the paper and give them to the gerbils back when we had gerbils (they also recylced paper towel and toilet paper tubes). And we have burned some. There are only so many that you can reuse when you have been buying them for years… And Target does sell them in bags, I have purchased them a few times, but I generally don’t buy produce at Target. (I would like to have a square one, that seems to be a more useful size…)

  2. Our grocery store sells them in smaller amounts in a mesh bag. It’s still more than 6 at a time, but it’s less than is in the box. We can’t manage to finish the larger amounts that come in the box before they go bad, so I buy the bag. With packaging sometimes being the biggest cost in getting a product to market (I don’t know if this is true about clementines) I would think the economics of the packaging would have done away with the boxes unless they served some other purpose, nostalgic marketing being one purpose.

  3. Cassi says:

    Clementines here don’t come in boxes at all. I’ve only seen them in the mesh bags. That still holds too many, and we often end up composting the ones that have dried out before they could get eaten. They’re so great when they’re sweet, and so awful when they’re sour.

  4. bdaiss says:

    What? Clementines in wood boxes? Around here you only get cardboard boxes. With a mesh bag of oranges inside it! I usually just take the mesh bag and leave the box for someone else to deal with. But I don’t buy clementines that often. My kids can’t quite get the hang of peeling them yet and if I’m going to spend my life peeling oranges, I’ll buy the big ones and only peel 2 instead of 10. And I can’t STAND it when they spoil before we eat them all.

    That being said…I would totally recreate those shelves in the photo for my office or craft room (once they become reality). Maybe I can take a couple boxes off your hands next time I’m in your neck of the woods. :)

  5. badnessjones says:

    There’s been a clementine box sitting beside the recycling on our side porch since before Christmas…I don’t want to throw it out, but too lazy to do anything with it. Maybe I should go take another look - the girlie needs some shelves in her bathroom…maybe I can transform it…?

  6. Michele P says:

    We only have them in boxes in the Boston area. We usually burn them in the fireplace but my kids used to make stuff from them when they were younger, like beds for their stuffed animals. Now the game is to try and huck the squishy ones from our back deck, far enough to make it over the pool. We’re easily entertained…

  7. Lori H says:

    We have clementines in boxes here in Richmond, too. It is hard to finish them all with just two of us, but I love them so we try to each take 2 to work every day until they are gone. I rip the label off and use them for storage; for example, I have my onions in them, one for yellow and one for red onions. I have a hard time throwing away “good” cardboard boxes (to my husband’s dismay) so it is highly unlikely that I would throw away a wooden box, however flimsy.

  8. ssheers says:

    I put our old clementine boxes into the recycle bin.

  9. jacqueline says:

    Only net bags or loose here. I expect you “could” buy them in the crate should you wish from the greengrocer, but I have no wish to.

  10. Smalltown Me says:

    I don’t ever buy them in a box because we’d never eat them all before they rotted. If I did have a supply of those darling little crates I imagine I would make a storage system for something, sewing or craft supplies. It’s nice to have boxes of a standard size, instead of the usual hodgepodge.

  11. I leave the box at the grocery store.

  12. I get mine in a net bag at Trader Joe’s :)

  13. Sarah says:

    Man…we’re so getting ripped off here in the midwest! No cool mini crates here!!! I was actually searching for them a few years ago b/c I saw the coolest little planter made from one! Although I’d so be trying to replicate what the Martha did too!

  14. Lisa says:

    Mesh bags here in the midwest. I can finish almost all of them before they go bad. A couple for lunch and sometimes one for a snack before dinner. I love how easily they peel. And will be sad when the season is over.

  15. Aunt Snow says:

    They come in cardboard boxes here; one favorite brand is called “Cuties.” I love ‘em.

  16. Mesh bags here most of the season but I do see the boxes during the holidays. Not sure I would buy them in boxes for the reasons you mention.

  17. I have the box sitting around until my husband gets sick of looking at it and then tosses it. And for those of you unable to eat all of your clementines before they start to go bad, I have one word for you…JUICE!!! Squeeze those babies and you’ll be amazed. Just be sure you do it when no one else is home because you will not want to share.

  18. I use mine for storing garden tools and for sorting produce when I pick-what an educational post! I never knew this was why clementines come boxed.

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