The long-awaited Page mandarins from John Lagier! We love Page mandarins. We think of them in the long months leading up to December. These are coming in a bit later than usual, but what’s usual anymore anyway? John wanted to wait until flavor is primo, and we love that he cares about that above all else. Page mandarins are a cross between a tangelo and a clementine. Sure, its thin peel is not easy to peel whatsoever. But once one gets over that frustration, which we personally achieve by cutting it into quarters like orange slices and eating it as such, there’s nothing left but to appreciate The Flavor. The Flavor is SO GOOD and we can eat so many Pages in a day, it’s crazy. The flavor is fresh, it’s incredibly juicy, sweet with an acid balance, and just incredibly rich. It’s kind of the perfect little orange! (Editor’s note: it’s a tangelo x clementine cross.) Store on the counter. Grown organically in Escalon by Lagier Ranches.
The Sidi Aissa clementine variety originates in Morocco. It’s one of the earlier season clementines. It’s a beautiful bright orange color and, while not easy-peelin’ like a Satsuma, it’s not too too difficult to peel. But peeling the Sidi Aissa is part of the experience, as the skin releases pungent puffs of aromatic oils as you go. This amazing olfactory experience is part one of the eating pleasure. It practically begs you to candy or dry its skins and preserve those fleeting moments. The fruit is juicy, flavorful, and sweetens throughout the season. We’re enjoying the high notes of acidity right now, and it’s just an overall delicious clementine. Store on the counter. Grown organically in Parlier by Blossom Bluff Orchards.
Passion fruit has slowed down along the central coast with the cooler, wetter weather. Our friends at Good Land Organics let them hang on the vine for a while to let them really slow-ripen and accumulate harvestable quantities for us. We love passion fruit as-is, but when citrus comes around we think the move is to mix a bit of passion fruit with your cut citrus for the best flavor combo ever (POG vibes??) Sweet and tangy with the most tropical aromatic fragrance, passion fruit can be eaten smooth skinned (tangy and juicy) or in the near future, once it’s become wrinkly (sweet and pulpy). Store on the counter. Grown organically in Goleta by Good Land Organics.
Move over Pink Lady apples, it’s time for your kid brother the Sundowner to get a little bit of the spotlight. This late variety is crispy and tangy with a lovely balance of sugars and acid to make it such a delicious eater. It hangs on the tree for quite a long time, and basically brings up the rear of the lo-fi beats to study/relax to parade that is apple season. Sundowners are also known as ‘Cripps Red’ and are a true sibling of the Pink Lady with the same parents: Golden Delicious and Lady William apples. Unlike the more popular Pink Lady variety, Sundowners have a red-blush skin and are quite tart freshly after a harvest. They tend to sweeten up significantly once it’s held in storage after harvest. These are a couple weeks off the tree, so they have a nice balance of sugar and acid. We find the slightly denser flesh and flavor more dynamic than the Pink Lady. Store these in the fridge. Grown organically and biodynamically in Boonville by Filigreen Farm.
We love eating Chojuro asian pears and we can’t seem to get enough of ‘em. But all good things must end! Deeply butterscotch-y in flavor, these pears are extremely juicy and crisp and so refreshing. This is the last Asian pear we’re enjoying until next year's fresh harvest again in the fall. You can find some varieties for a while longer in asian supermarkets but they may be imported and/or held in cold storage for quite some time. They do hold up well in storage – indeed flavor can continue to develop too – but we love a crispy fresh local Asian pear and there is just a few-months-long window for that. They’re so delicious and we’ve definitely developed a new appreciation for them this season. Store in the fridge. Grown organically in Sebastopol by EARTHseed Farm.
The Mega is a relatively new variety of kiwifruit. It was found in Greece, as a natural genetic mutation that resulted in a cool new variety. The Mega variety can get pretty big (though these might be more fairly called Mega mediums) without sacrificing flavor, which we think is on-par with the widely-grown Hayward variety. Bryce of Blossom Bluff has added a few acres of kiwi vines to their orchard in Parlier to expand the winter offerings. We love supporting new and small kiwi growers like Bryce. There’s not too many out there! Store on the counter until it softens up a bit to have a slight give. Grown organically in Parlier by Blossom Bluff Orchards.
Peak California blueberry season usually runs from April to July. Depending on how you grow them and in what region, you may see them as early as March (like Snowchaser blues from Coastal Moon) or into August (like Sharpblue blues from Filigreen Farm). We see big label/brand blueberries at the grocery store pretty much all year long from up in the PNW or all the way down to Peru. But “present!” ain’t the same as delicious! We cherish local blueberries. There’s something about the flavor that really shows where they’re grown. We’ve been eating these Santa Barbara-grown blueberries for weeks now, in what’s become a weekly wintertime reminder of the glory of California microclimates. If you find the perfect sloping hillside like Sandra Newman did, you’ll find yourself with an off-season blueberry harvest. Store in the fridge. Grown organically in Lompoc by Forbidden Fruit Orchards.