February 15, 2024

February 15, 2024

Full Moon Fruit & A Better Cutie

Fresh this week

Gold Nugget mandarins are Bryce of Blossom Bluff Orchards’ favorite mandarin variety. And it’s one of our favorites, too! Gold Nuggets are incredibly juicy, flavorful, sweet, and easy to peel. This is the first harvest and we love that it’s got just a bit of acid to really make the flavor super complex. As the season progresses, they’ll get sweeter and sweeter with more hang time on the tree, but the balanced early season fruit is actually our fave. Gold Nuggets are recognizable by their pebbly, bumpy skin, though early fruit is a mixed bag with some that are still smooth skinned. As the season progresses, the mandarins get more uniformly pebbly – a common trait of easy-to-peel mandarin varieties. Store these in the fridge, unless you are of the mind to polish these off in a couple days. No judgment here! Grown organically by Blossom Bluff Orchards in Parlier. 


When Tango mandarins start up, it’s a true sign that Satsuma mandarin season is over. These two varieties have little in common except their shared popularity among growers and fruit-eaters alike. Tango mandarins are a bright vermillion-orange with smooth, shiny skin, making them the perfect radiant mandarin for Lunar New Year. They’re also seedless with that quintessential sweet-tang flavor! If Tangos remind you of Cuties®, it’s because Tangos are one of the varieties marketed under that label! Lucky for us, we found a grower who shares our enthusiasm for Tangos (and high quality standards – no offense to the good people of Cutie Corp). Cathy Suematsu of Spreadwing Farm planted about 36 Tango trees because this is decisively one of her top 3 fave mandarin varieties. Rare air in our book! She likes to slice them up and use them in stir-fries, yum!! Keep these on your counter. Grown organically by Spreadwing Farm in Rumsey. 


We’re celebrating Lunar New Year through February 24th, which marks the culmination of celebrations with the Lantern Festival. The Lantern Festival is observed on the first full moon of Lunar New Year and promotes peace and light for the new year. Pomelos, a visual symbol of the full moon, remain popular throughout the new year celebration. To us, the Chandler pomelo is the best out there right now. Pomelos are one of the first fruits to kick-off citrus season but they really shine in February. The pulp of the pomelos (aka juice vesicles or citrus kernels lol) is fully developed making them super duper juicy. Like a full moon, they’re in full form. The skin of each segment is easy to peel, especially to perform the traditional pomelo “harvesting” that Joyce grew up with. You can see the third method in this video we made here. Sweet, juicy, low-acid and with minimal bitterness, these Chandlers are in their prime. Grown organically by Murray Family Farms in Bakersfield. 


These Crimson Gold apples are pretty special. So special that Byron Albano of Cuyama Orchards told us the Japanese market demands that they're shipped overseas! Byron grows apples in the Cuyama Valley where the orchard, at 3,200 feet, is bounded by mountains on all sides. The high-desert is a pretty unique climate for growing apples, but the results are delicious. In the fall months, the warm days and cool nights create the perfect apple-ripening conditions, allowing for full flavor development while keeping a crisp texture. It’s unusual to see a California crabapple this late in the season, but with last year’s prodigious rainfall, this year's crop was huge. Slightly larger than other crabapple varieties, Crimson Golds are crisp, juicy and bursting with a sweet-tart complexity! Store in the fridge to maintain cwispness. Grown organically by Cuyama Orchards in Maricopa.


Encore appearances

This is the last week for Washington Navel oranges from Rainwater Ranch. Lauren and Lee warned us it would be a short season this year so we’re grateful we got to enjoy their Navels for the few weeks that we could. The crop was light given the late frost in the spring of 2023. It’s a tough time to be a citrus grower. In parts of Southern California, a novel citrus pest infestation has led the California Department of Food & Agriculture to enforce a quarantine. Citrus growers in quarantined areas may not ship their fruit out of their counties, translating to massive crop losses. Luckily, our Northern California farmer friends are unaffected so far. But with unprecedented weather across the state and a citrus quarantine in SoCal, we’re filled with gratitude when we bite into the last delicious Washington Navels from Lauren and Lee this week. Store these on the counter. Grown organically by Rainwater Ranch in Winters.


Jill, owner-operator of Four Sisters Farm, and her crew tend to the five acres of Hayward kiwis that her father and grandfather planted in 1978. On their hillside farm near Monterey Bay, they’ve planted kiwis at the top, flowers in the middle, and greens down below. Jill says her parents started farming organically before it was ever “sexy and marketable.” After years of cultivation and compost amendments their farm is now proudly showing off almost three feet of fertile topsoil, compared to the three inches they started with. Monterey County may be the land of strawberries and artichokes, but its climate is also perfect for these kiwi vines, nurtured by the gentler summer just a few miles from the ocean. Jill harvests her kiwis later in the season which makes for a pretty special late winter treat. She’s got a good crop this year and we love supporting women farmers who are growing big commodities like kiwis on a smaller scale. Store these on the counter until desired softness, or at fridge temps to extend shelf life before ripening. Grown sustainably by Four Sisters Farm in Aromas.

It’s hard to believe that despite storms up and down California, Forbidden Fruit’s tough little plants are still pushing delicious blueberries. It’s truly such a treat to get California-grown blueberries right now and with the cooler weather these past few weeks, the fruit is super-duper limited. The slower ripening means their flavor is extremely well-developed, even if the sugars aren’t quite there. They’ve got the varieties Jewel, Sapphire and Emerald planted, which will carry us until blueberry season really starts up in the spring. Store in the fridge. Grown organically by Forbidden Fruit Orchards in Lompoc.

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