When are California Mandarin Season

Now that I have been doing this blog thing for over 6 years, I have plenty of archives to go back and read. Sometimes when I read some of these older posts, I shake my head, whether it be at the photo quality or lack therefore or my writing skills, or both! Sometimes I read something and realizing how much more I have learned since that post was written. That is certainly the case when it comes to mandarins. I originally wrote ” ” back in 20. Now I feel like have so much more information that I needed to do a follow-up. But this time I am going to specific talk about just the California mandarin season. If any fruit has been gaining momentum over the 6 year history of my blog and it is the mandarin. More and more of them are in stores than every before, including more varieties.

When Does California Mandarins Season Begin (and End)?
Due to the development of new varieties over the year, the California mandarin season starts in November and can stretch all the way into May, with a few hanging around into June. Seven months of the year you can enjoy easy to peel fruit – from Clemtines to Pixies. Let me go on to break down each month of the season so you can see what’s available.

Halos and Cuties Costco

November
Clementines
Satsuma

Satsuma Mandarins

Satsuma Mandarins

The first new crop of mandarins hit the stores before Thanksgiving including your Halos and Cuties which are the Clementine variety to start the season. However the quality is usually pretty poor. I feel they are rushed to the market without the time to develop flavor and sweetness. I try not to make any mandarin purchases this early in the season, unless the kids are really begging.

December
Clementines
Satsuma (best month)

Supply really picks up in December and sales prices should be easy to find. The highlight of the month for me has go to be the Satsumas. Around the 3rd week of December right before Christmas is when I find them to be at peak of flavor – with enough sweetness to balance out the tart taste.

Page Mandarins

Page Mandarins

January
Clementines
Satsuma
Page
Sumo Citrus

The variety really starts to pick up in January. The last of the Clementines despite store signs that will last the whole year. Brands like Halos and Cuties run out of Clementines and will switch over to other varieties. Satsumas start getting soft in January and the quality goes down. There is great reason for excitement this month. Page mandarins come to season. They are round, dark orange in color. A little more difficult to peak, but your patience will be rewarded with their juiciness. The flavor reminds me a lot of Minneolas.

Sumo Citrus Mandarins

Sumo Citrus Mandarins

The best part of January has got to be the Sumos. Called Dakepon in Japan, this mandarin is the size of a Navel orange and is just as big on flavor. Best piece of citrus all year in my opinion (and my wife’s). Read the Sumo story to learn more about this amazing piece of fruit.

Murcott Mandarins

Murcott Mandarins

February
Murcotts
Tango
Sumo
Kishu
Page
Gold Nugget
Ruby Tango

Gold Nugget Mandarins on tree

Gold Nugget Mandarins

In February we are really rolling. Pages and Sumos are still in season (sometimes the Sumo season will start in February). The Murcott and Tango mandarins come out. These will replace the Clemtines in the branded bagged and boxes of mandarins. On the other end of the size spectrum from the Sum, we have the Kishu, the smallest mandarins. These things are small and cute, and tasty as well. You can eat an entire one in a single bite. Gold Nugget mandarins will begin showing up, but I think the February ones are too early to be that good.

Kishu Mandarins

Kishu Mandarins

A new variety of mandarin has hitting stores for the first time in 2016. The Ruby Tango is a cross between a blood orange and a mandarin. It tastes like a blood orange but in an easy to peel mandarin package.

Ojai Pixie Tangerine

Ojai Pixie

March
Murcotts
Sumo
Pixie
Gold Nugget
Ruby Tango

One of the few mandarin varieties that I find have great flavor even when they first hit the market for the year is the Pixies from Ojai, California. I visited a grove of them in 2015. The only good Pixie come from Ojai’s unique micro-climate. Murcotts should be better now (the ones I had at the same citrus grove were the best I ever ate and I did so in late March). Sumos will be wrapping up for the season by now.

April
Murcotts
Pixie
Gold Nugget
Shasta Gold
Yosemite Gold
Tahoe Gold

The last season varieties are now ready to go. I love Shasta Gold for it’s sweet pineapple like flavor. Gold Nuggets are now at their peak, you can find the best ones under the Dimples name. Pixies are in full swing. We are fortunate to have such great fruit at the end of the season.

May
Pixie
Gold Nugget

Final month of California mandarin season. As stone fruit starts rolling into store, the mandarins will begin to disappear. The best thing to buy in May are the Pixies and Gold Nuggets. Not a bad way to wrap the season up.

What varieties of California mandarins have you tried? Where do you like to buy your mandarins. Let us know by leaving a comment below.

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Ruby Tango Mandarins

At the beginning of this month I was reading a New York Times article about the mandarin industry. It included some great photographs, including my friends from Friend’s Ranches in Ojai, California (I visited their orange grove last March). As I was scrolling through the photos, something caught my eye. The Ruby Tango mandarin. Never heard of that one before. As I continued to read my excitement grew when I found out that his mandarin is a cross between a Clementine mandarin and a blood orange. Now how cool is that! The chance to eat a blood orange just as you would a mandarin is super a-peeling – see what I did there!

Ruby Tango Mandarins

Fast forward two weeks. As I am browsing my facebook newsfeed, I come across a post form Melissa’s Produce talking about the Ruby Tango mandarin. Now I really wanted them. But how long would it take for me to find them? A whooping 3 days later I was peeling and eating my first specimen. Good thing too because my son had a blood orange my wife had brought back from California and was really wanting more. I was excited to bring them home for a taste test for him and the whole family.

Ruby Tango Mandarins

What Does a Ruby Tango Mandarin Taste Like?
If you were to close your eyes and be given a slice of this mandarin without knowing what it is or seeing it at all, you would think you are just eating a blood orange. The flavor is spot on blood orange. Yet in comes in a smaller package and is easier to peel. The skin itself in some specimens will have some red color on the outside just as you see in blood oranges. The more red on the inside, seem to indicate more color on the inside and a richer flavor. They are sweet and tart. I am anxious to see if they get sweeter as the season progresses as I have observed with most citrus. Even now I am ready to call these new bad boys a winner!

They are easy to peel enough to peel, maybe not as easy as some mandarins where you got the skills you can remove the entire peel in one piece. This was is a little more tricky to do that, yet still easier and faster than your straight up blood orange.

When are Ruby Tango Mandarins in Season
2016 marks the first time Ruby Tango is being released commercially in a big way. Still supplies may be limited and they may not be easy to track down. In future years supply should increase as tree mature and hopefully they will be then easier to find. Their season runs from February to March.

Where to Buy Ruby Tango Mandarins
I haven’t heard a lot about who is carrying them yet, but here a few stores I would recommend looking:

Whole Foods Market
Gelson’s Market
Bristol Farms
Fairway Market
Fresh Direct

Have you found these mandarins yet? Let me know what you think by leaving a comment in the section below.

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Why Do Halos or Cuites Sometimes Have Seeds

Whether you call them Cuties, Halos, Clementines or whatever marketing name with a smiling fruit on the box, they are all mandarins. And they are all suppose to be seedless, right? The marketing appeal of these fruits is that they are easy to peel and you don’t have to worry about seeds. So how many of you have bite into one of these things and on occasion found yourself spiting out a seed or two? What gives? Are they lying to me? How did this happen?

Halos and Cuties Costco

Clementines are Not Truly Seedless
During the early part of the season the Clementine variety is the type of mandarin you find in Halos or Cuties packaging. This variety isn’t actually seedless. If left to grow on it’s own you would find seeds in the fruit. This happens when bees visit the fruit and cross-pollination tastes place. So why isn’t every fruit full of seeds? In order to produce a seedless product the growers prevent the bees from cross-pollinating with more than 1 variety of citrus. There are 2 ways to counteract this. You could grow each variety in isolation from other varieties. As you can imagine this isn’t always easy or possible. A second option is put netting over top of the tree as you will see in my photos below taken in California.

Citrus Netting 1

Citrus Netting 2

Citrus Netting 3

Of course there is the possibility that a bee or two will get through and still pollinate a flower in either option. This is why from time to time you are going to find seeds in your fruit. Can’t expect a 100% success rate, but not the less it is pretty high, enough for them to still label them as seedless.

Murcotts are Also Not Truly Seedless
Later on in the season, Halos and Cuties switch over to the Murcott mandarin, although most people seem to miss that. This variety also would be full of seeds if measures are not taken to prevent that.

Ojai Pixie Tangerine

Pixies are Truly Seedless
Not all varieties of mandarins have seeds. The Pixie mandarin is genuinely seedless. Even if cross pollination takes place it will not make seeds. The best Pixies are grown in the Ojai Valley of California and are available near the end of the season, starting usually in March. So why don’t the Cuties or Halo growers use varieties like this one? The Pixie variety has not undesirable traits too like producing heavy one year and light the next, that makes it less than ideal. Plus Pixies seem to only be of great flavor when grown in the Ojai micro-climate.

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Where to Find Sumo Citrus Mandarins 2016

Last month we heard radios across the country blare out the classic tune “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”. I think we were a little bit early on that. Because for any citrus lover out there, the most wonderful time of year is upon us. That’s right. It’s SUMO Citrus time. Time to get excited once again for the largest, sweetest, most flavorful mandarin eating experience you are going to have all year. Forget the Halos, put down the Cuties, and grab yourself some Sumos, maybe even a case or two.

Sumos being harvested (Courtesy of the Official Sumo Facebook Page)

Sumos being harvested (Courtesy of the Official Sumo Facebook Page)

The 2016 Sumo Crop
Before I get into where to buy them this year, I wanted to share with you some information on this year’s crop directly from the SUMO growers themselves. I talked with Guy Wollenman and he is very excited about this year’s crop. The harvest has come early and the flavor is outstanding. Guy said it was the best he has ever tasted, even at this early stage. He also said his other varieties of citrus he grows are tasting really well too. This season hasn’t come without it’s challenges. They have had some below freezing temperatures, so they have had long nights running wind machines to protect the fruit. Good news – no damage to the Sumos. In fact, he believes the cold weather has actually improved the eating quality of the fruit as well as helping keep the fruit on the trees longer which extends their marketing season. Good news indeed!

SumoCitrusStorySmall Want to learn about the amazing story on behind how Sumo Citrus got growing, read Sumo Citrus – From Tree To Your Hands, The Story of the Most Delicious Citrus Variety on Earth.

Where to Buy Sumo Mandarins in 2016
Here is a reminder to everyone. They aren’t going to arrive in every store at the same time. It takes time for them to be transported across the country. And since it’s winter time there is also a chance that a winter storm is going to slow the process down. So be patient. Just because you didn’t find them where you expected to yet, doesn’t mean they won’t get there.

Some other notes about this year’s list. On national scale the best place to look for Sumos is your local Whole Foods Market. They have really embraced it. The Fresh Market as well. Some Kroger and Safeway stores may carry them but only specific store, not chain wide. I have never seen them in a Kroger in Michigan before. If you live in the eastern part of the country, Wegman’s will probably be your best source for Sumos. Check with any of the smaller, specialized store and chains in your area.

If you want to buy them by the case I discovered H Mart is a great store for that. They are a wonderful Asian grocery chain with stores in California, Michigan (Troy), New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, Illinois, and Texas. You can also request whole cases at Whole Foods Market and get a 10% case discount.

As I hear about them, I will list store locations in parentheses that have had confirmed Sumo sightings. If you find them at a store not in this list, let me in the comment section below and I will add it.

Southern California
Nijiya Market
Marukai
Grow – The Produce Shop
Gelson’s Markets
Whole Foods Market
Assi Super
Mitsuwa Marketplace
Bristol Farms
Koreatown Plaza Market

Northern California
Capitola Village Market
Andronico’s Community Markets
Draeger’s Market
Zanotto’s Family Markets
Lunardi’s Markets
Nijiya Market
Whole Foods Market
Safeway (select Northern California locations)
Nugget Markets
Monterey Market
Berkeley Bowl Marketplace
Old McDonald’s Farmers Market

Outside California
Dorothy Lane Market (Dayton, Ohio region)
Metropolitan Market (Seattle, Washington area)
Town & Country Markets (Seattle, Washington area)
Gourmet Garage (New York city)
Eataly NYC
Super 1 Foods (Idaho, Montana)
Baldor Specialty Foods (producer distributor from New York)
Lunds/Byerly’s (Twin Cities, Minnesota)
The Fresh Market
Foodland & Sack & Save Supermarkets (Hawaii)
Wegman’s Food Markets
Earthfare Market (locations in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee)
Roth’s Fresh Market (Oregon)
Fresh Direct (online service)
Zupan’s Markets (Portland, Oregon region)
Kroger (Select Locations)
Whole Foods Market
Brookshire’s (Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas)
Brennan’s Country Farm Market – Wisconsin (Madison & Milwaukee areas)
Safeway (Select Locations)
Rouses (Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi)
Reasors (Tulsa, Oklahoma region)
West Side Markets (New York City)
Jungle Jim’s International Market (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Dan’s Fresh Supermarket (North Dakota)
H Mart (California, Michigan (Troy), New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, Illniois, and Texas.)
Fortinos (Ontario, Canada)

SUMO Citrus Recipes
These are a couple recipes I came up with that utilize Sumo Citrus.
Sumo Citrus Fudge
SUMO Citrus Fudge
SUMO Citrus Sugar Cookies

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Halos in store

No doubt that biggest success in the produce department in recent years has been the marketing of mandarins under the names “Cuties” or “Halos”. People are using these terms to describe all mandarins or tangerines (much to my cirginy) – just like Kleenex the brand is used to describe all types of tissues. Unlike Kleenex, Cuties, Halos, and every other mandarin does not remain on store shelves year round. The end is coming. So how long do I have left to enjoy these easy to peel, seedless fruit?

When Do Cuties or Halos Go out of Season?

One of the biggest factors that most consumers don’t think about when it comes to the end of the season is store shelf space. When May rolls around, peaches, nectarines, cherries, plums, etc start coming into season. Stores need places to put these products. Usually it’s at the expense of citrus. It’s downsized. Growers find it harder to sell their mandarins as we get closer to summer, even if they have them in June, although decades ago no one could imagine having them much past Christmas, so we have come along way. But to answer the question of this post, Cuties or Halos season ends near the end of April to early May. It all depends on the retailer, but if you are reading this at it is near the end of April, then this would be the time to stock up.

Ojai Pixie store display

Are There Other Mandarins Available after Cuties and Halos are Gone?
Even if you can’t find Halos or Cuties anymore, you still may be able to find some last season mandarin varieties. This time of year Ojai Pixies are in season and they are one of the best tasting mandarins money can buy. I was fortnate enough to tour an Ojai Pixie grove this year! Also look for Gold Nugget mandarins, another late season gem. You may find them marketed under the Dimples name. I have always preferred those over the Cuties or Halos brand mandarins.

Dimples

Can You Freeze Cuties or Halos?
One way to prevent a season from ending is to employ your freezer. First, we must ask another question. Can you freeze them? Can you. Of course. Do you want to? Probably not. Fruits that contain a lot of moisture did not do well when thawed. The texture would be awful. Yes people do freeze grapes, but it’s usually to be eaten frozen, not thawed and eaten. If you like frozen mandarin segments, then by all means have at it. You could juice them and freeze the juice. For whole eating your best to enjoy them when in season – when they are done you will have stone fruit to replace it with anyway. Good news is that if you put mandarins in the fridge you should be able to get a good couple weeks of use out of them. As you get close to the end of the season, buy up, so you can have them even a couple weeks after stores stopping carrying them.

Can You Dry or Dehydrate Cuties or Halos?
I have not tried this but it can be a good option. Here is a link to another blog, telling how they dehydrate their citrus.

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Sumo Citrus Mandarins

Check out my 2016 Sumo Citrus store listings and crop information

We like in a culture that wants everything and that want everything now. But you know I am glad that we really can’t have it all now. It makes for special moments – things to look forward to. That’s what I love about the produce world. There are so many things I get to look forward to throughout the year. As we open up 2015, the thing I am most looking forward to right now is Sumo Citrus.

What’s the Big Deal?
So what’s the big deal about this mandarin? It is a big, literally. Sumos are the size of a Navel orange, yet are a true mandarin. They are seedless and much easier to peel than a Navel. The most important thing is the flavor. It is so rich, so flavorful. Brings back memories of eating orange cream pops but in a much healthier way. Out of all the mandarins I have tried, this one is the undisputed champion of flavor. People go crazy for these things. Driving miles out of their way and buying entire cases at a time.

The 2015 Sumo Season
Due to warm weather in California over the last couple months, the season is coming early this year. A normal year, Sumos make their appearance right when cupid is flinging this arrows (Valentine’s Day). The harvest has already started this year. January 19th is the day they expect to begin shipments. If your a Sumo fan or a Sumo fan in the making, it’s time to get excited!

I received a comment from one of the Sumo growers, sharing his experience with Sumo Citrus. Here is what Guy Wollenman had to say:

“I’m a family farmer growing Sumos. Earlier this week I went around with our Sumo Citrus field man, tasting various blocks to see if they are ready. Only a few are being harvested this week, with most needing to wait until their prime time! I produce ten other citrus varieties, and this is the only one that needs to pass the taste test in the field before we harvest. To get the best size and flavor, we have a special, unique farming program to achieve these goals. Be assured, Sumos have to pass the highest standards in the citrus industry – our own – before we harvest and send them to you, our consumer friends. In the four years I’ve raised Sumos, this is our best vintage year.”

SUMO Citrus Recipes
Here are a couple recipes I came up with that utilize this amazing fruit.
Sumo Citrus Fudge
SUMO Citrus Fudge
SUMO Citrus Sugar Cookies

Photo of the 2015 Sumo Harvest in the Central San Joaquin Valley

Photo of the 2015 Sumo Harvest in the Central San Joaquin Valley

Where to Buy Sumo Citrus Mandarins in 2015
Here is a list of stores that are expected to carry Sumo Citrus in 2015. I will add additional stores and confirm locations as that information becomes available. Whole Foods Market has been a big supporter for Sumos, you should be able to find them at any Whole Foods. Also on a national level some select Kroger locations will carry them this year. Also keep your eyes peeled for Dried Sumos. I tried them last year and they were amazing – best dried fruit I ever tasted. They were released to select stores last year after the fresh season.

Southern California
Marukai
Whole Foods Market
Gelson’s Markets
Koreatown Plaza Market
Bristol Farms
Grow – The Produce Shop
Mitsuwa Marketplace
Assi Super
Nijiya Market
Santa Monica Farmers Market (every Wednesday)

Northern California
Capitola Village Market
Safeway (select Northern California locations)
Nugget Markets
Lunardi’s Markets
Zanotto’s Family Markets
Berkeley Bowl Marketplace
Andronico’s Community Markets
Monterey Market
Draeger’s Market
Old McDonald’s Farmers Market
Nijiya Market
Whole Foods Market

Outside California
Wegman’s Food Markets
Fresh Direct
Dan’s Fresh Supermarket
Super 1 Foods Idaho, Montana
Safeway (Select Locations)
Brennan’s Country Farm Market
West Side Markets
Kroger (Select Locations)
Gourmet Garage
Brookshire’s
H Mart
Nijiya Market
Roth’s Fresh Market
Baldor Specialty Foods
Jungle Jim’s International Market (Ohio)
Rouses
Earthfare Market
Town & Country Markets
Whole Foods Market
The Fresh Market
Foodland & Sack & Save Supermarkets Hawaii
Eataly NYC
Reasors
Lunds/Byerly’s
Dorothy Lane Market
Fortinos
Metropolitan Market

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Ojai Pixie Tangerines 2014

Shopping in the produce department can be depressing in the winter when you live in a northern climate. Local fresh produce is long gone. Which is why I am so thankful that I have citrus season to help me deal with the winter time blues. As we head deeper into spring, it means that citrus season is coming to a close. While that is disappointing, the good news is that one of the best tasting pieces of citrus is one that you will find right at the end of the year. For the last several years, I have enjoyed the Pixie tangerine as the last piece of citrus I will have until the cold weather returns. Talk about going out with a bang, these are so rich in flavor, and sweet on the tongue. If you have not tried them before you really need to seek them out.

The 2014 crop wasn’t the largest. There was some damage due to December freezes and California experienced a drought in January. While the size is mammoth this year, the availability and prices are not as good (I paid $2.69/pound without no chance of any sale prices this year). That is why it’s even more important for me to share with you where you can find these tangerines. Lucky for us the Ojai Pixie Growers Association posted the stores where you can find their Pixies this year on their website. For your convenience I have re-posted the list below. I buy mine at Whole Foods Market in Ann Arbor, Michigan. For the first couple weeks they were only getting them on the weekends, however now the supply has improved. Don’t hesitate to pick them up in bunches if you see them as there are no promises you will be able to get more.

Here are some grocery outlets that carry Ojai Pixie Tangerines:

Southern California

Ojai:
Rainbow Bridge, 211 E. Matilija, 805-646-4017 www.rainbowbridgeojai.com
Starr Market, 131 West Ojai Avenue, 805-646-4082
Westridge Market, 802 E. Ojai Ave. 805-646-2762.

Santa Barbara:
Lane Farms, 5091 Hollister Avenue, 805-964-3773
Lazy Acres, 302 Meigs Road, 805-564-4410 www.lazyacres.com
Tri-County Produce, 335 South Milpas Street, 805-965-4558 www.tri-countyproduce.com

New Frontiers Natural Marketplace
1531 Froom Ranch Way San Luis Obispo, CA 93405
1984 Old Mission Dr Solvang, CA 93463

Malibu
Vintage Grocer

San Gabriel
Howie’s Ranch Market

Orange
Pacific Ranch Market

Northgate Markets
http://www.northgatemarkets.com/

Gelson’s Markets – 18 Southern California stores
http://www.gelsons.com/

Bristol Farms – 13 Southern California stores
http://www.bristolfarms.com/
Northern California

Berkeley:
Monterey Market, 1550 Hopkins Street, 510-526-6042 www.montereymarket.com
The Berkeley Bowl, 510-843-6929 www.berkeleybowl.com

Alameda
Dan’s Fresh Produce, 2300 Central Avenue www.dansfreshproduce.com

Draeger’s Gourmet Food & Wine www.draegers.com
Los Altos, 342 First St., 650-948-1563
Menlo Park, 1010 University Dr., 650-324-7700
San Mateo, 222 4th Ave., 650-685-3700

Lunardi’s www.lunardis.com
Los Gatos, 720 Blossom Hill Road, 408-358-1731
San Jose, 4650 Meridian Ave., 408-265-9101
San Jose, 4055 Evergreen Village Square, Suite 140; 408-528-6940
San Bruno, 100 Skycrest Center, 650-952-2851
Belmont, 1085 Alameda de las Pulgas, 650-591-5768
Walnut Creek, 1600 Palos Verdes Mall, 925-939-6477
Burlingame, 1825 El Camino Real, 650-697-5306

Other Bay Area:
Sigona’s: Redwood City and Palo Alto
Rockridge Market Hall: Rockridge
The Wharf Marketplace

Outside California

Whole Foods Market stores across the country (Check store for availability)

Central Market www.centralmarket.com
Austin, TX – Central, 4001 North Lamar
Austin, TX – Westgate, 4477 South Lamar
Dallas, TX – 5750 E. Lovers Lane
Fort Worth, TX – 4651 West Freeway
Houston, TX – 3815 Westheimer
Plano, TX – 320 Coit Road
San Antonio, TX – 4821 Broadway
Eastern US

Wegman’s Markets – 80 stores in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland
www.wegmans.com

The Orchard, 1367 Coney Island Boulevard, Brooklyn, NY 718-377-0800, www.orchardfruit.com

Mail Order Sources

Directly from the farmer, at Friend’s Ranches:
www.friendsranches.com, 805-646-2871

Farm-direct certified organic Ojai Pixies from Churchill Orchard:
www.tangerineman.com, 805-646-4212

From Melissa’s World Variety, at
www.melissas.com, 800-468-7111

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2014 Sumo Citrus Crop

When it comes to produce you can call me a super fan. I readily await with much anticipation the relese of my favorite varieties throughout the year. When it comes to citrus season, nothing beats the excitement of bitting into my first SUMO Mandarin of the year. SUMO bursts forth with a sweet, rich flavor reminiscent to orange ice cream pops. A little background on the SUMO, it is a mandarin that is the size of a navel orange, but peels just as easy as those popular boxes of mandarin with the smiling faces on them. To learn more about them, check out my post – What are SUMO Mandarins

This will be my third season of experiencing this orange wonder. The 2014 season has not got off to a great start. Cold weather in California with a period of freezing temperatures in December has delayed the start of the season to late February 2014. If that wasn’t enough, California has been experiencing a terrible drought. Both of these weather factors has harmed the overall production of SUMO Citrus for this season. Originally they expected production to be up from last year, it appears now that about the same as last year is the best we can hope for.

SUMO Mandarins are still relatively new. The acreage devoted to them makes up less than 3% of the total California manadrin crop. New trees are fruiting each year. The harvest takes place sometime in late January to early February. Then in April the trees blossom and the process begins again.

Below you will find a list of stores that are expected to have SUMO Citrus this season. I got the list from the official SUMO Citrus website, which you should just check out to learn more about my favorite mandarin. Check with each store individually for availability. They won’t be shipping until after Valentine’s Day.

SUMO Citrus Recipes
Sumo Citrus Fudge
SUMO Citrus Fudge
SUMO Citrus Sugar Cookies

Store Listing for 2014

Southern California
Koreatown Plaza Market
Bristol Farms
Whole Foods Market
Marukai
Nijiya Market
Mitsuwa Marketplace
Santa Monica Farmers Market (every Wednesday)
Assi Super
Grow – The Produce Shop
Gelson’s Markets

Northern California
Lunardi’s Markets
Old McDonald’s Farmers Market
Zanotto’s Family Markets
Nijiya Market
Safeway (select Northern California locations)
Andronico’s Community Markets
Nugget Markets
Berkeley Bowl Marketplace
Capitola Village Market
Monterey Market
Whole Foods Market
Draeger’s Market

Outside California
Nijiya Market
Dan’s Fresh Supermarket
Dorothy Lane Market
Safeway (Select Locations)
Whole Foods Market
Brennan’s Country Farm Market
Brookshire’s
Lunds/Byerly’s
Eataly NYC
Jungle Jim’s International Market
Earthfare Market
Super 1 Foods Idaho, Montana
Fortinos
Fresh Direct
Baldor Specialty Foods
Kroger (Select Locations)
Metropolitan Market
H Mart
Reasors
Town & Country Markets
Gourmet Garage
West Side Markets
Rouses
The Fresh Market
Wegman’s Food Markets
Foodland & Sack & Save Supermarkets Hawaii
Roth’s Fresh Market

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I have been really excited for the SUMO Mandarin season to arrive. I had this mandarin for the first time last year and was really impressed with it’s flavor and juiciness. The SUMO was developed over a 30 year period in Japan, by a man who wanted the ease of peeling of  a Satsuma mandarin and the size and juiciness of a California Navel orange. That is exactly what we have now. This season I wanted to try and do something with one of them, even thought it’s hard not to just want to gobble them all up as is. I love citrus flavors in cookies. Why not make a sugar cookie with the flavors of this awesome mandarin?

Some people might think sugar cookies are only for Christmas. We need not refrain from them the rest of the year, especially when you have some flavors out there that would work perfectly in one. These cookies use the SUMO in two ways. The zest goes into the cookie batter to provide a nice essence of orange flavor. The juice is mixed with powdered sugar to make a simple, yet bold tasting icing.

I used a Clementine in this shot showing I used it’s zest for top of the icing.

The recipe below uses just 1 SUMO. The recipe I use is inspired by a sugar cookie recipe from Paula Dean. I have made several changes.

SUMO Mandarin Sugar Cookie Recipe
Cookie
 
Ingredients
For the cookie dough
  • 1½ cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter (slightly softened)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • zest of 1 SUMO Mandarin
For the glaze
  • Juice of 1 SUMO Mandarin
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • Additional zest for garnish (optional)
Instructions
Making the cookies
  1. In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and powdered sugar.
  2. Mix in the egg, vanilla, and zest. Thoroughly combine.
  3. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cream of tartar.
  4. Add the dry ingredients in batches to the creamed mixture until you have combined everything well.
  5. Cover and refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes. This is to harden up the fat so the cookies don't spread too much.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  7. Cut the dough in half.
  8. Roll one half out onto a floured surface to around a quarter-inch thickness. Cut the cookies out with a round cookie cutter or what cookie cutter you like.
  9. Transfer cookies to a parchment or silicone lined half sheet pan. Do no more than 8 cookies on a pan.
  10. Bake for 10-14 minutes (depends on size of your cookie cutter) or until slightly browned.
  11. Allow to cool on a wire rack before glazing.
To glaze the cookies
  1. Mix together the juice of 1 SUMO Mandarin with powdered sugar. Mix until you form a glaze that is spreadable without being too thick or too runny.
  2. Spread onto cookies as soon as they are cool enough to handle.
  3. Garnish with more zest if you like (like I did in my picture)

 

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Ok I admit I am big produce nerd. Which is good because that’s my day job. It’s also good because I stay on the cusp of what is cool and new in the produce world and pass it along to you – my audience.

Last year one of the most amazing (and largest) mandarins hit the market place – the Sumo. It’s sumo wrestler looking top combined with it’s orange cream like flavor, has gotten me excited about sinking my teeth into one of these again this year. You aren’t going to like those boring Clementines that are flying off the shelve everywhere after you take your first bite of Sumo!

I just heard from the growers themselves that they hope to begin shipping the first week of February and that we should be enjoying them the next time the government takes a Monday off (President’s Day).

For more info on availability check out the official Sumo site. Also make sure to read my post from last year when I first became acquainted with this awesome piece of citrus.

If you want to learn more, take a moment to play this YouTube video on the history of the Sumo.

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I'm Eric. I live in Ann Arbor, MI with my wife, 3 kids, and a flock of ducks. I love grocery shopping, trying new fruits, farmer's market, and traveling.
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