Our Citrus Bomb has exploded, with up to 20 different varieties of California citrus on our shelves as we speak. The uncharacteristically cold weather of the past few weeks has slowed down vegetable production statewide, but it has also resulted in some of the most juicy and flavorful citrus in the past ten years. The flavor profiles of our citrus selection range from the tart & extra fragrant Bergamot Sour Orange to the super sweet & tiny Kishu Mandarin. We’ve got everyone’s taste buds covered.
My favorite piece of citrus so far this year is the slightly tart and berry-like flavored Moro Blood Orange. The flavor, juice and texture on these have been out of this world this year. We’re getting our Moros from Deer Creek Heights Ranch in Porterville, in the San Joaquin Valley 260 miles southeast of San Fran. Their fruit is picked only when it’s fully ripe and ready to eat, and delivered to us within days of harvest. Instead of using artificial wax and fungicides, the fruit is simply brushed with horsehair brushes and drenched with a natural compound, using only the fruit’s own natural wax. This produces a fruit that is full of its own natural flavor, like you picked it right from the tree–the way it used to taste.
The New York Times recently published a recipe for Blood Orange Upside Down Cake, and our HR guru Jessica gave it a try, with great success! In her words: “I felt like I was building a stained glass window. Every layer I sliced off of each orange revealed so many new splashes of color that I had to stop and stare at the pile of carvings, just to savor the visual splendor. The juice from the Moro Bloods I used for the recipe was so abundant that it spread beautifully through the cornmeal batter. The result was a tasty blend of sweet and tart throughout a deliciously moist cake.” She’s urged us all to give it a try!
Like most Americans, I grew up on classic pink grapefruit; my Mom would cut it in half and sprinkle sugar all over and I would take the time to cut out each little tart/sweet segment. That was in New England, but out here in California we have numerous grapefruit varieties. My favorite over the past few years has been the Cocktail Grapefruit; this flavorful cross between the Fru Mandarin and the Pomelo Grapefruit is super juicy and has a low acid, sweet and buttery rich flavor.
The success of our produce department relies heavily on all of the farm direct relationships we have built over the past 10 years, but one of the most difficult crops to get directly from the farms is citrus. The majority of citrus growers are located from the Central Valley all the way down to Southern California, and it’s unrealistic for them to drive all the way to us just to deliver 20 cases. However, this season we reached out to Jim Churchill, who grows amazing citrus in the hills of Ojai. Most commonly known for his extra-sweet, late-season varieties like the Pixie Tangerine, Jim also grows the easy-peeling Kishu Mandarins which are so tasty that the kids in the neighborhood can’t get enough.
We are mid-way through citrus season and there are so many varieties I didn’t mention, so come by and sample all the flavors!