Due to the shorter days and the colder weather, many local and California crops slow down for the winter. One crop thrives in cold weather and is farmed throughout our beautiful state — citrus! Citrus is one of California’s most bountiful crops, and the fruit is shipped all over the world. At the Bi-Rite Family of Businesses we love to celebrate what’s in season, and for the next couple of months we will focus a lot of our attention on all varieties of citrus. When folks come into the Produce Department, the Markets, or the Creamery we want them to experience all the different uses, flavors, textures, and juices that are produced by the 30 to 40 varieties of citrus that will hit our shelves from January to April. Join us to explore winter in California as it should be – with the California Citrus Experience.
The California citrus season usually kicks off at Bi-Rite in November with the easy-peeling, seedless Satsuma Mandarin that offers a very refreshing balance of sweet and tart. Satsumas are one of the only mandarin varieties that flourish in Northern California. The local Satsuma season usually goes through mid-January, but this year the cold rain damaged the fruit and ended the season early. We’ll still have Satsumas from southern growing areas this month! Satsumas are the first tangerine varietal of the season and we usually see two or three new varieties each month of the new year.
The season of the Navel Orange — one of the most popular varieties of citrus — begins in Southern California in December, but these early oranges don’t have the perfect balance of sweet and tart that will come with the Navels in January. By early February we are blessed with the textbook tree-ripe Navels harvested at Full Belly Farm in Yolo County. They are great to eat out of hand, by the segment, added to a salad, or simply juiced. The Cara Cara Orange is also known as the Pink Navel — they usually show up at the Markets around the same time. If grown correctly, this can be one of the sweetest oranges of the season and is not very acidic. The fruit has nice floral qualities and is ideal for cocktails and zesting. Cara Caras are one of our most popular oranges of the season at the Markets!
As we head into the New Year one of the most beautiful pieces of citrus hits the scene. Moro Blood Oranges, known for their dark red and purple flesh, might be one of the most versatile pieces of fruit in the kitchen. Not only do do these oranges produce that amazing dark red juice, but when segmented and added to any dish they will make it pop with flavor and color. The Moro Blood Oranges are usually around into March.
The California Citrus Experience at Bi-Rite is just getting going and if fresh-cut citrus is not for you, the Produce Department is teaming up with Bi-Rite Creamery & Bakeshop to use citrus in so many tasty treats this season. Keep an eye out for the debut of our newest ice cream flavor in January, Tangerine Dream — Bi-Rite’s classic Vanilla Ice Cream with a Tangerine Swirl. Plus, we’re bringing back a couple of our guests’ favorites — Earl Grey Ice Cream (containing the oils of the Bergamot Orange) and Meyer Lemon with Gingersnaps Ice Cream.
We’re citrus-crazy in the bakeshop, creating a bunch of goodies like the Cream Cheese Lemon Cookie with Citrus Glaze, Lemon-filled Yellow Cupcake with Vanilla Buttercream & Candied Citrus, Orange Olive Oil Cake, and our Sour Cream Lemon Pie with Graham Crust. Have a taste of your favorite citrus variety and stop by the Bi-Rite Family of Bussinesses to try something new!