March 7, 2024

March 7, 2024

SoCal Subtropicals

Fresh this week

In 1989, Juan and Coco Garcia started Garcia Organic Farm on 9 acres of sunny slopes in Fallbrook in northern San Diego County. They’ve expanded to 27 acres in order to fit the wide diversity of fruit they now grow including citrus, avocados, guavas, cherimoyas, figs, persimmons, and more! They’ve committed to farming organically since day 1 and they’re incredibly proud of that. Lety Garcia is the badass lady farmer who's running the show these days alongside her father-in-law Juan Garcia. Juan retired from nursery work two years ago and is back on the farm full time. Lety says that since he’s been back the fruit is better than ever. We’ve been searching for really tasty California-grown guava and met Lety just in time. They’ve been harvesting these Mexican Beaumont Guavas since October and this is the last haul of the season! These Mexican Beaumonts can have a cute pear shape to them. They are ripe and ready to eat when the exterior is yellow. When ripe, the flesh is thick and creamy and the cavity holds soft edible seeds. Slice and eat fresh, skin and all, alongside some citrus, or lean into the tropical flavors with a cocktail or an agua fresca. Sweet with a slight tang, these are extremely aromatic and will take your senses on a tropical adventure! The tail end of guava season provides the perfect way to brighten up these rainy winter-spring transition days. Store these on the counter until yellow and ripe. Grown organically by Garcia Organic Farm in Fallbrook.

A cross between a clementine and a Ponkan mandarin, Fremont mandarins really have taken the best flavor traits from both. These are just so so good! Though this variety does have seeds, the super sweet, juicy, and rich flavor makes it super worthwhile. Fremonts can’t hang with consumer expectations for the ideal “modern day mandarin” given its seeds and its short shelf-life due to the delicate peel. But it’s so delicious and is such a rare variety amongst citrus growers these days that we wanted to share it. Garcia Organic Farm grows many tasty and less common citrus fruits but this one hits full-on flavortown when harvested in the depths of winter. Store in the fridge. Grown organically by Garcia Organic Farm in Fallbrook.

While we were chatting with Lety at the Santa Monica farmers market, there was a tall stack of crates filled with various kumquats sitting right in front of me. I sampled a kumquat and found myself grabbing a fourth and fifth one. I realized this was my first Meiwa kumquat of the season and all I could say as I reached for another one was “oh my–oh my goodness–these are amazing!!” Harvesting Meiwa kumquats this late into winter means ultra-thin and delicate skin, super duper sweet with a practically creamy flesh! I don’t think kumquats are ever described as “creamy” but there’s no other way to describe these. The texture is incredible, but the flavor is also just the perfect sweet and tart balance! Nagami kumquats have a nice bite, but these Meiwas just melt in your mouth. It’s like eating candy! Store in the fridge and don’t delay, these are ripe and perishable! Grown organically by Garcia Organic Farm in Fallbrook.

We introduced cherimoyas at the beginning of last month when they were just starting up at Good Land Organics. For many of you, this may be your first cherimoya experience. There’s so much to appreciate about cherimoyas. Perhaps the most incredible thing is the labor-intensive work of hand-pollinating each flower in order for it to bear a proper fruit-set. Visiting farmer Jay Ruskey this week, he told us that cherimoyas bloom in July or August. But the window of opportunity is short. Cherimoyas are unusual in that the flowers exhibit protogyny. This means the flower starts its bloom with female parts and a few hours later transforms to male parts. This means Jay & the crew need to properly time the bloom to collect the pollen (male) and then apply on the receptive stigma (female) for successful pollination. This transformation fluctuates based on temperature and humidity, too. Wow! We’re so lucky to be eating this magical fruit. Cherimoya season is nearly coming to an end so we’re holding onto every bite of these swirling flavors of banana, papaya, and pineapple. Keep the cherimoya on your counter until it yields to gentle pressure (like an avocado) and it’ll be ready to eat. We like to cut it in half and use a spoon to scoop the flesh out, while dodging the black seeds. Store these on the counter. Grown organically by Good Land Organics in Goleta.

The Ice Cream Bean crop is really exploding right now! With all this rain, they’re big and bountiful (and on the farm some are literally exploding, swollen and burst from the heavy rains). Though Ice Cream bean is the ~FuN nAmE~, Jay and Kristen Ruskey refer to the fruit as “Inga” which is short for its scientific name, Inga edulis. Inga is commonly planted alongside coffee to provide shade, wind protection, and help fix nitrogen in the soil. It’s extremely fast-growing and even though it’s a legume, it grows in the habit of a tree! Yes, that means the main appeal (the sweet and custardy white part) wraps around a big black “bean” that is also edible when cooked. Check out the reel we made showing you how to open them up here. Store in the fridge. Grown organically by Good Land Organics in Goleta.

We had to have Gold Nugget mandarins right now. A few weeks ago, these were good. With the extra tree time, they’re really tasty! Juicy and oh-so-sweet, these seedless Gold Nugget mandarins are an easy peeler and highly crushable. We love that they’re tiny enough to eat 2-3 in a sitting and its pebbly skin is full of oils and aromatics that enhance the sensory experience. No wonder they’re farmer Bryce Loewen’s favorite mandarin variety! Keep these on your counter. Grown organically by Blossom Bluff Orchards in Parlier.

It’s peak grapefruit season and the Ruby grapefruit is a standout jewel in the world of red grapefruits. We wanted to balance the box out with some more acidity since things are getting a little sweet as we get closer to spring and citrus is hanging on a bit longer! These Ruby grapefruits have a beautiful pink flesh and a generous sweetness to check the acidity and bitterness. They’re super juicy, so if you’re not keen on eating them fresh, might we recommend a guava-grapefruit beverage? Keep on your counter. Grown organically by B&J Ranch in Thermal. 

When Robert Lower purchased the land he currently farms on, it was a completely barren desert. It had never been farmed before so he took it upon himself to build the infrastructure needed to sustain a farm. That was 1979. It’s now a thriving tropical-desert forest of dates, citrus, and other fruits. Robert is no longer certified organic but has continued to farm with biodynamic practices and organic inputs.They have predatory birds, snakes, and beneficial insects that control any unwanted pests. There’s so much to say about the hard work that goes into growing, thinning, and harvesting dates, but we’ll just leave it here for you to enjoy. These are a small sample of our favorite, extremely delicious, dates: Medjools from Flying Disc Ranch. Grown sustainability by Flying Disc Ranch in Thermal.
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