February 22, 2024

February 22, 2024

Fresh this week

These Kishu mandarins are super duper sweet, juicy, easy-to-peel, with firm little segments, and they’re completely seedless! They are more than just a tiny version of another mandarin (and don’t believe anyone who tries to tell you otherwise!). Kishus originated in the Jiangxi province in Southern China in the 8th century. This is still the area where they’re most widely grown today. Kishus were introduced to the US in the 1800s but they never really took off, likely because it was the seeded species. In 1983, the seedless Kishu arrived at UC Riverside by way of Japan and has since become a favorite. Jim Churchill was the first to plant Kishus commercially around 20 years ago. Now they have caught on with growers (and fruit fans) up and down California. We’ve eaten a lot of Kishus and they’ve become quite marketable, so though it’s nice to have more players in the (growing) game, it’s still Churchill that nails the flavor every time. Store on your counter. Grown organically by Churchill Orchard in Ojai. 


We went into the navel orange season with Rainwater Ranch knowing it’d be a light crop and a short season. We didn’t think we’d meet another Washington Navel that tasted so good. Then we had the fruit from Spreadwing Farm. At the far end of the Capay Valley, Cathay and Michael are growing delicious Washington Navels that are harvested, washed, and packed on their 15 acre diversified farm. The flavor is so amazing that every time we take a bite, we’re like “wow, where are these from again?!” We’re fortunate to have these smaller farms growing a classic variety like the Washington Navel with such care, making a popular commodity like a Navel orange feel so unique and special. It feels like the year that the Washington Navel has really shone. For us, it’s been the star of citrus season! Store on your counter. Grown organically by Spreadwing Farm in Rumsey.


Passion fruit from Good Land Organics has been super limited lately. The cool and wet weather has made ripening really slow. But nothing is better than that zingy taste of floral, tangy, and tropical bite that passion fruit has to offer, sending you on a POG ride to tropical paradise. Everyone deserves a little bit of passion fruit pulp scooped onto the delicious citrus that’s in season right now. You can eat your passion fruit when it’s smooth-skinned (tart but juicier) or wait until it’s uber wrinkly (sweeter and pulpier). Store on the counter. Grown organically by Good Land Organics in Goleta.


We introduced cherimoyas the first week of February, when volume was just starting up and the jumbo variety being harvested was primarily ‘Dr. White’. We’re now moving into other varieties like ‘Booth’ and ‘Selma’. Selma has some reddish coloration on the exterior and pink-hued flesh. It’s super rare and sought after – sooo sweet with a slightest bit of tanginess! Every time we eat a Cherimoya, we are amazed by the flavor complexity. Heavy hints of banana and papaya, without that papaya funk. Especially chilled, these Cherimoyas are just SO GOOD! It’s not an easy-to-peel fruit to take on the road or eat out of hand; we think of it as a sit-down fruit! When chilled, it deserves to be cut in half, put on a nice plate and scooped out with a spoon. And wow, it’s the most wonderful afternoon fruit treat that just explodes in all sorts of tropical flavors. Thanks to the Good Land crew hand-pollinating the flowers so we get to enjoy this delicious fruit. Store on the counter until softer (a ripe cherimoya will have a bit of give when pressed like a ripe avocado), then chill in the fridge before enjoying. Grown organically by Good Land Organic in Goleta. 


I don’t think we’ve had a Moro blood orange this late into citrus season before. But because of the magical climate in Fallbrook, in northern San Diego County, here we are! The deep contrasting red hues against the light orange skin of the Moros are a telltale sign that they’ve had extended ripening time. The flavor is so fresh and rich, high in acid with sweet, sweet notes of sunshine. We love Taroccos this time of year, but these Moros have been incredibly impressive. Store these on the counter. Grown organically and biodynamically by Beck Grove in Fallbrook. 


In 1982, Helene and Robert Beck converted an abandoned avocado grove into a thriving organic and biodynamic orchard growing 15 different fruit varieties on 30 acres. Nagami kumquats are one of the many citrus varieties they do an amazing job growing. This is one of the more popular varieties grown commercially. (And of course, an important fruit for the Lunar New Year!) This wonderful little citrus can be eaten whole. Behind the zesty, snappy skin is a juicy and super tart interior that offers a burst of citrus explosion. It’s intense but keeps you wanting more. It’s got the nicest citrus numbing effect that can only be described as addicting. The skin is the “sweet” part of a kumquat and the flesh brings the tartness: balance! Joyce’s grandma always prepared salt-preserved kumquats to enjoy throughout the year, given their “cooling” health benefits. You could never have too many! Store on the counter. Grown organically and biodynamically by Beck Grove in Fallbrook. 

Encore appearances

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. 


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.

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