FARMERS MARKET REPORT: WEEK OF MARCH 7TH, 2010

Baby Anzio Artichokes newest crop has arrived!
Grower
Life’s A Choke
Seasons/Availability
California artichokes are available throughout the year with peak seasons in Spring and Fall, April-May and September-November.

Current Facts
Light red and only roughly one-two inches in diameter when fully grown, the baby anzio is a relative of the romanesco artichoke of the Lazio region of Italy. Like many baby artichokes, baby anzios can be cooked and eaten whole.

Description/Taste
Both meaty and nutty at the same time, this artichoke is 100% edible and full-flavored for its pint-sized appearance.

Applications
When slow-cooked, such as roasting, braising and poaching, artichokes become tender, more flavorful and they absorb the savory flavors around them most optimally. Favorite companions are lemon, butter, herbs and soft cheeses such as chevre and feta. Try braising anzio artichokes in garlic and thyme butter or basting on the grill with lemon-infused olive oil. Anzios are small, so cooking time is favorable over larger varieties.

Ethnic/Cultural Info
The origin of artichokes is unknown, though they are said to have come from the Maghreb (North Africa), where they are still found in the wild state.

Geography/History
Locally grown in California, baby anzio artichokes are a successful hybrid of a baby purple artichoke and a baby green artichoke, the reason for their attractive two-tone coloration. California supplies one hundred percent of commercial artichokes in America.

FIELDS OF RED:

The farmers market is filled with vivid reds and deliciousness!  Gloria Tamai Farms has Gaviota Strawberries.  Coleman Family Farms has Vulcan Red Leaf lettuce, Rancho Del Sol and Garcia Organics are harvesting some amazing Blood Oranges!! Coastal Organics grows giant red violet chard and Jaime Farms is bringing some sweet Black Cherry Tomatoes!!!





GREENS GREENS GREENS:

Mustard Greens:  Coastal Organics


Red Mustard Greens:  Windrose Farm

Braising Greens Mix:  Rutiz Farms; a blend of delicious young greens – Hon Tsai Tai, Komatsuma, Red Russian Kale, Green and Red Mustard, and Tatsoi

Giant Nobel Spinach:  Just seven years after its release the Giant Nobel was chosen as an “All-American Selection” winner in 1933.


Red Frill Mustard:  Windrose Farm

Rapini:  Windrose Farm

Bloomsdale Spinach:  Tutti Frutti Farms

Tutti Frutti and Life’s a Choke are harvesting chanterelle mushrooms!  Thanks to the cold rainy season, we could see harvests through March!

Chanterelles do not discriminate in their “plant relationships”. Their mycelial threads can be found intertwined with the roots of hardwood trees, conifers, shrubs and bushes. They specifically thrive on old deep, leaf “litter”.
Schaner Farms has green garlic!! fresh hen eggs, guinea fowl eggs and emu eggs!

Coastal Organics has beautiful lettuces, mustard greens, white, pink and gold beets, red and green chard and baby broccoli.  Baby artichokes are on hiatus.
Rain is expected through Tuesday so harvests will be unpredictable and there will be…..mud.
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA WINTER CROPS:
Bacon and Fuertes Avocados, Cabbage, Cardones, Baby Cauliflower, Celery Root, Cherimoyas, Citrus:  Buddha’s Hand, Grapefruit, Meyer lemons, Mandarins, Kumquats, Blood Oranges, Pomelos, Tangelos, Dates, Escarole, Fennel, Kale:  Black, Peacock, Kohlrabies, Leeks, Mushrooms:  Black Trumpet, Chanterelle, Oyster, Shitake, Nettles, Parsnips, Radicchio, Radishes, Sapotes, Sorrel, Sweet Potatoes, Swiss Chard, Turnips, Winter Squash
Allow this to be your navigational guide to menu-making and spontaneous cravings, getting what’s in season locally and just one chapter of living, breathing sustainability.

MARKET FORECAST:


Beylik Farms will not be at the market until April 6th.  Ramona Ducks are not laying eggs for 3 months.  Jaime Farms has some amazing heirloom tomatoes!!!! as well as fava beans and rainbow chard.  Schaner Farms has hen eggs, guinea fowl eggs and emu eggs.  Life’s a Choke has artichokes, asparagus, zucchini with blossom and baby green zucchini.  the ci
Blood oranges,  cara cara oranges

Lee, kishu, satsuma and clementine mandarins, pomelos, oro blanco grapefruits, meyer lemons, bears limes, kaffir limes – it’s time for our favorite winter fruits!!! and finally…..kumquats!!! both meiwa and nagami!


Sugar Snap Peas: Rutiz Farms –  snappy, succulent and sweet!

English Peas!

Fava Beans – Jaime Farms

New Zealand Spinach – Rutiz Farms


Bloomsdale Spinach:


Windrose Farm has  greens, greens and more greens!!  Spinach, Red Mustard, Green Mustard, Mizuna, Rustic Arugula and…..
Oriental Mustard Green Mix:

Braising Greens:

RANCHO DEL SOL IS BRINGING US THE CITRUS OF THE GODS:  KISHU TANGERINES – SWEET, PETIT AND SEEDLESS!!


GARCIA ORGANICS – FUERTE AVOCADOS!!!

The fuerte avocado was once the gold standard cultivar of avocados in California.  It has a rich, creamy flavor with notes of hazelnuts and a clean, grassy finish.
POLITO FARMS HAS ORO BLANCO GRAPEFRUIT,  CLEMENTINE MANDARINS and PERFECTION MANDARINS!!


COLEMAN FARMS – STINGING NETTLES, TOKYO LONG JAPANESE ONIONS ARE GORGEOUS AND A GREAT WINTER FRESH ONION! PEACOCK KALE, PORTUGESE KALE, FRENCH SORREL, CARDONES, FRISEE, RED FRILL MUSTARD IN BUNCHES, SPIGARELLO AND PERSIAN WATERCRESS
MCGRATH FARMS HAS THE BABY RED AND WHITE SCALLIONS!  THEY ALSO HAVE RAPINI and MY PERSONAL FAVORITE: PEA TENDRILS!!

JAIME FARMS HAS THEIR BABY CARROTS IN 4 COLORS AND THEY ARE CUTE!!!  ALSO, BABY GOLD TURNIPS AND RED KURI SQUASH!!

BEYLIK HAS THE HARDY AND RELIABLE JAPANESE TOMATOES AND PERSIAN CUCUMBERS

UPDATE:

MARKET PREVIEW:
Baby Broccoli!! – Coastal Organics, Weiser Family Farms, Coleman Farms, Rutiz Farms…..

Red Frill Mustard – McGrath Farms: is back!

Black Radishes – McGrath Farms

Watermelon Radishes – McGrath Farms

Red Okami Spinach – McGrath Farms

Japanese Turnips – McGrath Farms

Romanesco!!!



Red Bok Choy from Coleman Farms! – Also known as Red Violet Tatsoi Hybrid, this is a unique bok choy vartiety The shiny leaves range in color from red-violet to dark purple, and they hold their color well even in the summer heat, although this variety also tolerates colder temperatures. Lightly textured, the spoon-shaped leaves have a mild mustard flavor.



Duck Eggs – from Ramona Duck Farms!! Larger in size than chicken eggs, the whites of duck eggs tend to be a bit more thick and opaque and the yolks are a striking yellow. As the bird is naturally wilder, duck eggs typically have a stronger flavor compared to that of a chicken egg.

Black garlic is cultivated and harvested right here in California and it is waiting to allure you…

THE FARMS:

Beck Grove – Fallbrook, CA:

Beck Grove, Fallbrook is home to a 100% certified biodynamic and organic orchard/farm. Biodynamic farming stimulates and supports soil fertility through the use of farm-produced manures and composts. Beck Grove has a singular cow that meets all of their manure needs. I was there and the scent was in the air. Their orchard was converted from an abandoned avocado farm to the 33 acre orchard where over 15 different fruit crops, most of which are unique to the produce landscape, yet perfect for a chef’s palate. There grove spirals east to west and north to south with rows upon rows of fuyu persimmons, pomegranetes, kumquats, kaffir limes, blood oranges, satsuma tangerines, meyer lemons, bearrs limes, passion fruit and minneolas.  As with many growers, due to water restrictions the orchard faces serious consequential decisions of having to let some of the land go wild as they will not be afforded the water resources to feed all of their crops.
Available now:
kaffir limes – indulgent, fragrant, sexy, sweet, zesty are just a few words that come to mind when thinking about this exotic citrus that is finally finding its way to a more “global” stage.

Blood Oranges

Minneola Tangelos

Satsuma Mandarins

Beylik Family Farms – Fillmore, CA

Persian Cucumbers – petite and crunchy! No seeds=sweet!
Japanese Tomatoes – “Tough Boy” brings hefty flavor, succulence and meatiness.
Yellow Tomatoes – sweet, tangy and heartier than your average yellow tomato!

Coastal Organics – Oxnard, CA

Cavalo Nero Kale

White and Pink Turnips

Baby Carrot bunches!

Also being harvested at Coastal: red and green chard

HUGE Collard greens

sweet mixed small lettuces (by the case)

Baby Broccoli!!

White, Gold and Red beets


Mustard Greens

Coleman Family Farm – Carpinteria, CA

Pirella Lettuce – A mild-flavored limestone variety originally developed in Kentucky to withstand the heat!

Deer’s Tongue Lettuce – Triangular shaped leaves give this loose-leaf lettuce its distinct look and name. The leaves are tender, mild, succulent and have a melt-in-your-mouth flavor.

Red Butter (Piret) Lettuce – you won’t find this anywhere else! Award-winning for its taste and texture, Pirat is a butterhead variety that has tender and sweet red-tinged leaves with a snappy succulent blanched heart.

Vulcan Lettuce! A cut and come again variety – It has crisp, ruffled, mild flavored, candy apple red colored leaves that give way to a pale green background.
Freckles Lettuce – Freckles! Sweet leaves, crispy inside. Perfect lettuce for salads mixes.

Lollo Rossa Lettuce – A red leaf lettuce variety, the distinct red color increases and becomes more intense in this remarkable lettuce when confronted with severe cold or heat.

Frisee – An early Italian variety Endive known for its decadent sized head and self-blanching heart. Its leaves are long and mid-toned green with a white fleshy ribs. Wonderful sweet and mellow flavor.

Treviso – Gorgeous, green and red and a hearty crunchy leaf. Has a tendency toward bitterness. Soak the greens to remove unwanted astringencies.

Radicchio

Red Bok Choy! – Also known as Red Violet Tatsoi Hybrid, this is a unique bok choy vartiety The shiny leaves range in color from red-violet to dark purple, and they hold their color well even in the summer heat, although this variety also tolerates colder temperatures. Lightly textured, the spoon-shaped leaves have a mild mustard flavor.

Brocolli Spigarello

Peacock Kale

French Sorrel

Red Frill Mustard –

Cardones –

Persian Watercress –  A.K.A. “Shahi” the peppery frilly leaf that has a similar shape to wild arugula, yet it is more fragile and “cressier” in flavor.

Stinging Nettles –

Chrysanthemum – This Asian “pot herb” is the edible leaves of the garland chrysanthemum. The deeply lobed green leaves are a bit bitter in flavor but give off the floral aromas of its flower.

Fallbrook Mushroom Farm – Fallbrook, CA:

A field trip to Fallbrook Mushroom Farm is an educated journey into a virtual Chinese forest where mushrooms where dominate the landscape. Long and narrow, screened barns are home to thousands upon thousands of oyster “spawns” and shitake logs. The mushrooms are cultivated on agro-waste (which is essentially recycled agricultural food sources) in spawns filled with rice, grains, cotton, straw, wheat, millet and maize that serve as the mushrooms’ food and protein source. The spawned bags (see picture above) are stored in low-lit raised shelving as they begin colonizing. They are watered from a sprinkling system above daily to retain the appropriate levels of moisture for the mushrooms to grow prolifically. Harvests occur approximately every 60 days and are picked before the mushrooms begin to spore. The most effective way to harvest the mushrooms is to remove the entire colony from the spawn’s stem so that a new crop can grow all at once. One spawn bag can cultivate about 3-5 harvests.
Baby Oyster Mushrooms – These mushrooms are harvested at a younger age than their sand dolllar counterparts. They have a mild and delicately earthy flavor. The stems, although still a little chewy are far more edible than a matured oyster mushroom stem. They have more adaptable cooking applications at their younger age.

peewee shitakes – 100% edible!!! Tiny, thin and tender stalks and a meaty cap make for an amazing mushroom experience! The mushrooms are harvested the SAME day they arrive in your kitchen. And their local!!!

The shiitakes are farm raised and harvested on protein filled cedar logs. The logs can produce over 4 pounds of mushrooms over their lifetime. They are also 100% recyclable. Once the logs are exhausted they can be used for composting or as a natural fertilizer.
What is unique about Fallbrook Mushroom Farms besides the information that I shared with you? Well, considering that 85% of the world’s oyster mushroom production comes from China and the fact that the oyster mushroom is the third largest cultivated mushroom, having an oyster mushroom farm in our own back yard is simply a privilege. Fallbrook Mushroom Farm is a pristinely run organic family farm. They harvest their mushrooms the same day we have them delivered and they are harvesting the mushrooms smaller so that they are more tender and the mushrooms themselves are higher yielding. The mushroom caps range in sizes from button to half-dollar versus SAND dollar, making them the only oyster mushrooms known to be picked at that size. You can do so much more with these mushrooms than adding them to “Hot Pot”.  *available by the pound or by the five pound flat.

Garcia Organic Farm – Fallbrook, CA

Fuerte Avocados – This former market gold standard was displaced by the Hass avocado because of its thicker skin and ability to handle being shipped to distant marketplaces.

Meiwa Kumquats! Pop in your mouth, eat, Repeat! Sweet!!

Cara Cara Oranges –

Meyer Lemons

Satsuma Tangerines!!

Kishu Mandarins –

Pomelos!!!

Cocktail Grapefruit –
Developed in the 1950’s, the Cocktail Grapefruit is actually a hybrid of Siamese Sweet pommelo and Frua mandarin. As it was never officially allowed for release, the hybrid escaped from the University of California Riverside.

Gloria Tamai Farms, Oxnard, CA

Heirloom Cherry Tomato Mix

Wild Arugula (bunches)

Jaime Farm – Ontario, CA

Mixed Baby Bunch Carrots –  beautiful yellow, orange, red, and purple haze carrots with tops

Baby Gold Turnips –

Rainbow Chard – striking colors, hearty leaves.

Black Cherry Tomatoes

Spring Onions

Albian Strawberries

Fava Beans

J.J.’s Lone Daughter Ranch

Bacon Avocados – This avocado is a mid-winter green variety. It is a good quality medium-sized fruit averaging 10-12 ounces. The Bacon has a sheen green easy peeling skin with a flavorful, smooth and creamy flesh.

Zutano Avocaods – Shiny green skin, pale light and fluffy flesh, sweet but not oily.  Skin retains its green color even when ripe!
Nagami Kumquats

LA NOGALERA

Walnuts – grown in the Santa Rita Hills at Rancho La Viña; these are addictive!!!

Life’s A Choke – Lompoc, CA

Lyon Artichoke with stem– large and in charge! This is a very jumbo, round, meaty variety from Southern France that yields a whole lot of heart!!


McGrath Family Farm – Camarillo, CA

Pea Tendrils –

Watermelon Radishes

Black Radishes –

Japanese Turnips –


Rainbow Chard

Beets: Chioggia (Candy Stripe), Forono, Gold, Red & White – Forono Beet produces smooth, cylindrical shape beets–for perfectly round slices every time.




Rapini Spigariello and Sessantina Grossa



Purple Turnips

Red Okami Spinach (3 lb. Box) – Delicate lovely, baby red spinach produces rich green spear-shaped leaves with tender contrasting red edible stems and offer a mild spinach flavor.

Mixed “Saute” Greens (3 lb. box) – A gorgeous mix of flavorfull and spicy baby greens suitable for salads and light sautéeing. In the mix: mustard greens, mustard frill, dandelion greens, arugula and tatsoi.

Wild Arugula (3 lb. box)

Mike and Son Egg Ranch – Ontario, CA

Brown Eggs farm fresh eggs that are unequivocally delicious with gleaming yolks! Each egg is individually candled! (5 doz case only)

Polito Family Farm – Valley Center, CA

Oro Blanco Grapefuit – golden-flesh, sweet and juicy

Clementine Tangerines –

Perfection Tangerines – seedless, sweet and perfect!!!!! This tangerine makes other tangerines seem…well…less than perfect.

Pudwill Farm – Nipomo, CA

Red Raspberries

Blackberrries

Blueberrie$ –

RANCHO DEL SOL – Jamul, CA

Kishu Mandarins – Seedless and very easy to peel, golf ball size Kishu mandarins (tangerines) offer a sweet and tangy flavor. Measuring typically about two inches in diameter, the skin is exceptionally loose. The flesh is a beautiful bright orange and super juciy.

Lee Mandarins

Italian Sorrento Lemons

Cara Cara Oranges!

Limequats!

Sweet Limes –

Blood Oranges

Cara Cara Oranges

Oro Blanco Grapefruit
Mandarinequats

Stinging Nettles
Buddha’s Hand

Rutiz Farm – Arroyo Grande, CA

Persian Watercress– a unique variety, with a wonderfully spicy-sweet kick

Baby Green Romanesco –

Baby Calabrese Broccoli – available sporadically until late fall..

Savoy Spinach – cut in small clusters of 3-4 leaves – beautiful!!

Sugar Snap Peas –

French Breakfast Radishes!

Schaner Farm, Valley Center, CA

Green Garlic

Hen Eggs – limited

Emu Eggs –

Tutti Frutti (Italian for All Fruit) – Santa Barbara County and Carpinteria

Chanterelle Mushrooms – If carefully harvested so as not to disturb the ground in which the mycelium (the vegetative part of the mushroom) grows, chanterelles will reappear in the same places year after year.

Bloomsdale Spinach

English Peas!

Tutti Frutti also has other miscellaneous herbs and root vegetables. – check out their website!

Weiser Family Farm – Bakersfield, CA

Baby Broccoli –

Carrot Mix-

Mixed Heirloom Potatoes – Fingerling sized heirloom variety of six different potatoes, including french fingerlings, Russian bananas, King Edwards, All blues, Ruby crescents and red thumbs.

Red Thumb Potatoes – Red skinned on the outside, and pretty in pink on the inside

Russian Banana Fingerlings – oh so creamy..

La Ratte Fingerlings – Nutty flavors, stand out fingerling, one of the best potatoes, ever!!

Chiogga, Gold and Bull’s Blood Beets by the bunch
Romanesco

Windrose Farm – Paso Robles, CA

Braising Mix Greens -aka field greens, the mix varies but the greens are a hearty blend of baby sweet chards, kales, mustard greens and tatsoi

Oriental Mixed Greens -a perfect combination of loose leaf red and green frill mustard and mizuna

Rustic Arugula – loose leaf, frisee style and perfectly peppered!

Yasutomi Farm – Pico Rivera, CA

Butter Lettuce!!!!!

Baby Bok Choy – Baby bok choy’s attractive three to four inch long green leaves with characteristic succulent white stems offer a tender texture and mild, sweeter flavor.

Baby Celery – Fresh, sweet, herbaceous with leaves about the size of cilantro or parsley, baby celery delivers an intense celery flavor that is much stronger than mature celery.

Green Onion Chives – comin soon!  mild, sometimes sweet green onion and chive hydroponic hybrid. great shelf-life too!

Miners Lettuce –  It’s hydroponic!!! It’s an heirloom European seed. Unlike wild Miners Lettuce, this cultivated variety has a milder sweeter mache-like flavor than its more bitter counterpart. Its stems are thin, crunchy and equally edible as the tender leaves.

The End.

FARMERS MARKET REPORT: WEEK OF FEBRUARY 28, 2010

GOING COMMERCIAL, PART II


PERFECTION TANGERINE
GROWER
POLITO FAMILY FARMS
Seasons/Availability
Winter.
Current Facts
The perfection tangerine was never released to the public by the University of Riverside. Polito Farms participated in a test study and the few trees they planted via the University still grow and produce the commercially unreleased tangerine today.
Description/Taste
The perfection mandarin is seedless in all conditions. It is rounded vs. flattened in shape and it has a thin, medium-orange colored rind. Its flesh is extremely juicy and its flavor rich and sweet. Its name speaks for the fruit perfectly.  Check out its perfection for yourself…

FIELDS OF RED:

The farmers market is filled with vivid reds and deliciousness!  Gloria Tamai Farms has Gaviota Strawberries.  Coleman Family Farms has Vulcan Red Leaf lettuce, Rancho Del Sol and Garcia Organics are harvesting some amazing Blood Oranges!! Coastal Organics grows giant red violet chard and Jaime Farms is bringing some sweet Black Cherry Tomatoes!!!



Continue reading “FARMERS MARKET REPORT: WEEK OF FEBRUARY 28, 2010”

Farmers’ Market Bag 2-24-10


Meyer Lemons – Rancho Del Sol
Lyon Artichokes & Pencil Asparagus– Life’s a Choke Farm
Arugula & Leeks – Rutiz Farms
Dill & Mixed Cherry Tomatoes – Gloria Tamai Farms
Assorted Baby Lettuces – Coastal Organics
Minneola Tangelos – Schaner Farms
(add on) Bay ScallopsCatalina Offshore
(add on) French Bread & Jalapeno Cheddar Loaf – Bread on Market
(add on) Humboldt FogVenissimo Cheese
Order your bag for next week on our FMB page!

FARMERS MARKET REPORT: WEEK OF FEBRUARY 21, 2010

GOING COMMERCIAL


FUERTE AVOCADO
GROWER

J.J.’s Lone Daughter Ranch

Seasons/Availability
December through Mid-March
Current Facts
This former market standard was displaced by the Hass avocado because of its thicker skin and ability to handle being shipped to distant marketplaces. The fuerte tends to bear fruit in alternate years.
Description/Taste
The fuerte avocado was once the gold standard cultivar of avocados in California. It is considered a medium to large fruit that can weigh up to one pound. Its shape is elongated and pear-like. Its smooth thin skin is easy peeling and it has a deep grass color with some dark speckling. Its flesh is thick, yellow and marginally oily. It has a rich, creamy flavor with notes of hazelnuts and a clean, grassy finish.
Geography/History
The tale of the Fuerte avocado starts in the year 1911 in Puebla, Mexico, 80 miles east of Mexico City. On behalf of the West Indian Nursery in Altadena, California, American, Carl Schmidt, 21 at the time, traveled to Mexico City and Puebla in search of quality avocados, specifically avocado trees. He cut budwood from the best trees, numbered them and shipped them back to Altadena. Most of the buds refused adaptation to the soil and climate, but number 15 flourished. It survived the great freeze of 1913 and hence it was given its name, Fuerte, Spanish for “strong”. That single tree is responsible for spawning California’s avocado industry.
So while the general population is eating Chilean Hass Avocados because that is the commercial norm this time of year and throughout, perhaps you might want to make the switch the true gold standard, Fuerte.   It is local, in season and its flavor is superiorly incomparable.
Continue reading “FARMERS MARKET REPORT: WEEK OF FEBRUARY 21, 2010”

Farmers' Market Bag 2-17-10

Hope you enjoy your bag this week with all the extra goodies!  Please feel free to leave us some feedback on the ordering page 🙂
French Heirloom Potatoes, Broccoli Crown – Weiser Family Farms
Celery Root – Rutiz Farms
Green Leaf Lettuce, Gaviota Strawberries – Gloria Tamai
Vulcan Red Leaf Lettuce – Coleman Family Farms
Mustard Greens – Coastal Organics
Black Radish – McGrath Family Farms
Green Garlic – Schaner Farms
Minneola Tangelos, Blood Oranges – Rancho Del Sol
(add on) Yellowfin Tuna – Catalina Offshore
(add on) French Bread & Red Velvet cupcakes – Bread on Market
Order your bag for next week on our FMB page!

FARMERS MARKET REPORT: VALENTINE'S DAY 2010

RED LETTER DAY

The farmers market is filled with vivid reds and deliciousness!  Gloria Tamai Farms has the first crop of Gaviota Strawberries.  Coleman Family Farms has Vulcan Red Leaf lettuce, Rancho Del Sol and Garcia Organics are harvesting some amazing Blood Oranges!! Coastal Organics grows giant red violet chard and Jaime Farms is bringing some sweet Black Cherry Tomatoes!!!

Celebrate red fruits, vegetables and greens and celebrate the farmers and growers who provide us with endless bounties every season.  Theirs is a mission of love and dedication to land and a marriage with nature like no other.

GREENS GREENS GREENS:

Mustard Greens:  Coastal Organics

Continue reading “FARMERS MARKET REPORT: VALENTINE'S DAY 2010”

Citrus!

When gloomy winter weather brings yet another bounty of hearty greens and root vegetables, the menu can start to look a little bleak. What better time for bright, fragrant citrus to take the stage? There are the usual players, of course, sunny lemons and heady, sweet oranges but don’t discount the numerous other quirky varieties just waiting to awaken our palettes and invigorate our dishes.

Satsuma Tangerines

Be on the lookout for the flavor-packed, easy-to-peel Satsuma tangerine, one of the first to appear on the scene. Next up are the charming mandarinquats, a hybrid nagami kumquat and mandarin orange variety, ready to eat-out-of hand but even better candied and preserved. Packing a smaller, but no less tasty, punch are the tiny limequats—a cross between a Mexican key lime and a kumquat, great for saucing or wedging in the neck of a cold beverage. And rounding out the eclectic bunch is the wrinkly, local-grown kaffir lime. Powerfully pungent and perfect for zesting, these little fruits are a welcome reminder of the upcoming warm, summer months.
Mandarinquats

Limequats

So when that beautiful bunch of kale comes by again and you just can’t think of roasting another potato, remember the citrus—for all it’s sunny freshness, it’s just the thing to get us through.
Kaffir Limes

Citrus Variety Lbs. sold Jan 2009- Jan 2010
Satsuma Tangerines 3,944.09
Kaffir Limes 375.5
Mandarinquats 15
Limequats 12

Hard Winter Squash

A cherished part of our longstanding traditions, hard squash make their appearance on our tables as early as October and linger in our ovens well into January or early February.  We celebrate their quirky shapes, unusual sizes and striped markings in front door displays and Thanksgiving centerpieces. They are versatile and readily available, and at Specialty Produce we offer over twenty varieties of winter squash—many from local farms and growers.
All members of the cucurbita family, hard squash grow on ground creeping vines. Winter squash differ from summer in that they have a hard, inedible rind and a hollow inner cavity filled with large, tough seeds (some are inedible, some can be roasted and eaten). They are excellent keepers, especially when stored in cool, dry locations between 50 and 60 degrees F.  Larger squash, such as hubbard, banana or fairytale pumpkins, are often marketed in cut sections and sold by weight. Hard varieties store well and some, such as Tahitian, can even ‘heal’ themselves after being cut by creating a skin and sealing in moisture– ideal for such a large variety, enabling extended shelf life.
Winter squash are best harvested after the end of October.  Too often growers pick large gourds early to meet the holiday demands, yet a good squash will be left on the vine until it is ripe and the sugars are allowed to fully develop.  Most squash, such as spaghetti and delicata are ripe when their color changes from green to yellow, and when they snap easily off their vines.  A ripe squash will also have an almost dull look to its skin; if the rind is shiny it is still too young. When selecting winter squash, the rind should be firm with no soft spots, signs of decay or visible cracks or cuts. If the squash you’re purchasing has a stem, it was almost certainly locally grown. Here in San Diego, farmers experience a fairly long growing season– already into mid-December they’re still harvesting spaghetti squash.  Squash grown around the county are sold locally and therefore picked exactly when they are ripe and do not need to be cured.
Squash, especially hard winter squash can be cooked in a wide variety of ways– pureed, steamed, roasted, or baked. They are a wonderful accompanied by creams, cheeses, ground meats and other hearty vegetables and are well complimented by fresh herbs and spices.  Many varieties are even interchangeable in recipes:

Hubbard Squash
Hubbard Squash

Hubbard, pumpkin and turban are all mild, sweet squash with moist, thick, flesh.  These big beauties are perfect for baking and scooping out the insides for soups and pie fillings.

Kabocha Squash
Kabocha Squash

Kabocha and butternut are great peeled, cubed and roasted. This brings out their natural sweetness and firm, creamy consistency. Pureed and baked into cakes and breads is also a tasty alternative.

Delicata Squash
Delicata Squash

Delicata, dumpling and acorn squash are smaller but no less flavorful; their shape and size make them excellent for halving and baking, stuffed with grains, pastas or ground meats.
Richard Brown of Giuseppe Restaurants and Fine Catering loves to prepare hard winter squash. He cuts them in half, removes the seeds and pulp and brushes the cut side with a little butter. Then he roasts them, skin side up, until soft and adds the flesh to sauteed vidalia onions and a yukon on sweet potato. Seasoned with fresh thyme, salt and pepper, he serves it pureed as a shooter with creme fraiche and a cheese straw! The best part about his dish? You can use any hard winter squash and each one will create a different flavor combination.
Whether you eat them or carve them or just enjoy their beautiful colors, hard winter squash are a fitting way to embrace the season and celebrate local produce.
From the Specialty Produce Archives:

Variety Pounds Sold in Season, 2009 (Aug-Dec)
Butternut Squash 28970.2
Kabocha Squash 3874
Spaghetti Squash 2366
Green Acorn Squash 3004.75
Variety
Pounds Sold in Season,   2008 (Aug-Dec)
Butternut Squash 29390.2
Kabocha Squash 3542.8
Green Acorn Squash 3039.05
Spaghetti Squash 3170.3