The Neretva River Delta, or - as many refer to as "Croatian California" - is the largest Croatian producer of Mandarin. Every fall during the harvest, the Neretva valley comes to life in a special way. Everywhere you can find mandarin pickers. Visitors themselves can participate in the harvest or at least walk through the numerous Mandarin plantations savoring not only their fruits, but also a variety of local dishes and drinks.
The way to the plantation (the first mandarin orchards were planted in 60-ies of the last century, and today they take up more than 50% of agricultural land!) is just as exciting. The goal is reached by traditional Neretva ships, ships of farmers, fishermen and hunters, without whom everyday life in this impossible and unthinkable landscape for centuries would be unreal.
The refreshment with traditional grape brandy and dried fig is followed by a small lesson of mandarins picking. As golden fruit should be harvested in a specific way, and as the quality and life of fruits is affected by harvest methods, experts will teach you to pick mandarins with quick flick of the hand with a circular turnaround so the stem would not be left on the tree together with part of its bark. But, according to the principle ‘better safe than sorry’, this information is followed by the request not to pick mandarins with hands and the distribution of special curved and protruding hinges and a demonstration of their use.
Together with scissors everybody gets a net for their mandarins, which are not harvested in silence, but by the sounds of the music of this region. Program of mandarin harvest is completed by sailing in ships, or photo safari on the Neretva river channels, backwaters and swamps, rich with animal and plant species and rounded by enjoyment in the specialties of eels, frogs and deers. So, if you find time for a memorable trip in the Neretva valley (in November there are days of mandarins in Opuzen!), be sure to taste some of traditional dishes from this region, such as frogs and eel stew, fried frogs, risotto with frogs, eels with kale, coot with borecole or coot prepared according to hunters recipe.