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this season's citrus

I've been wondering what is going on with the citrus this year. I've tried oranges, satsumas, and tangerines and they are all watery - some sweet, some sour, but all watery. Last weekend I went to Berkeley Bowl and tried a half dozen satsumas/tangerines and I've also tasted some of the citrus from the Ferry Bldg farmers market and Friday Oakland farmers market. Was there something different with the weather this year? Are restaurants getting good citrus? Am I just looking in the wrong place?

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  1. I haven't particularily noticed this, but it is still relatively early in the season. I can't think of a particular reason. The orange trees in my back yard seem about the same as last year. There has been less rain than usual but you would think that would have the opposite effect. Maybe farms are over-watering to compensate?

    1. I got some Page mandarins and an Oro Blanco grapefruit from Torey Farms at the Ferry Plaza last Saturday that were awesome, particularly the mandarins. I got a couple of Cara Cara oranges from one of the other farms that weren't that great. I think rw is right, it's still a little early.

      1 Reply
      1. re: srr

        I'm glad to hear of some good reports. I'll continue to try them out, especially Torey Farms if I make it to the FB market this weekend.

      2. It's the runup to Chinese New Year, so Chinatown will be loaded with fresh citrus at great prices.

        1. The Satsumas I bought in Dec. (Whole Foods, BB) were pretty tasty. The ones I bought more recently from above and also from Ferry Bldg farmers' market were dry and tasteless. Waiting for those Tom Wilkinson oranges at Andronicos, even if they're not organic!

          5 Replies
          1. re: MargotB

            Thanks for the reminder. Every year I keep meaning to try thos Wilkinson oranges and every year I forget until it is too late.

            1. re: rworange

              I think you mean Tom Wilson oranges - they are very good!

              1. re: jsaimd

                The only time I REALLY buy oranges is when Andronico has these Tom Wilson oranges -- I give them away to friends and we all are so impressed at the intense, sweet orange flavor. They are usually later than other oranges. Everyone nags the produce guys there, asking when they will be arriving. They come from Riverside and I've never seen them at any other store.

            2. re: MargotB

              The Tom Wilsons are in! I eagerly bought 4 yesterday -- the one I had was very juicy but not outstanding taste-wise. Maybe the others are better, or it's a little early (blink and they're gone!)
              Best citrus I've had so far/currenlty are the Fremont tangerines from both the Berkeley Bowl & produce market in Rockridge Hall -- juicy, sweet yet a little tart. Sometimes their skin is so tight it's easier to slice than peel them. Pages from the Bowl have been pretty good too. The Satsumas may be past their peak. I haven't been to any farmers markets in a month, though, so claim no expertise in the field, so to speak.

              1. re: MargotB

                Just got some Tom Wilson oranges at Andronico in SF and they tasted great, as always. They told me they will probably be on special sale next week, 98 c lb instead of $1.38 that I think I paid today so I'll go back then and buy a case and distribute to my friends. It's the only time I buy oranges.

            3. The navel oranges I bought at Trader Joe's are small and not very juicy, but they taste okay. I got some huge, juicy navels from Mi Terra market last week. The very best so far have been the pink oranges from the Monterey Market. They were great. Limes, on the other hand, have all been dry.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Glencora

                Were the pink oranges Cara Caras or some other variety?

                1. re: chemchef

                  The little sticker just said "pink orange." I actually bought them by mistake. They looked just like regular navel oranges until I cut them open.

              2. I think that it's still pretty early, and I think that this season is maybe starting later than previous seasons -- I got some fantastic tangerines from Ram Das at the Berkeley FM, but I haven't seen some of my favorite citrus out yet, and he had the first of the blood oranges last week. I'm hoping for more and better citrus in the weeks to come.

                1 Reply
                1. re: JasmineG

                  I agree the citrus was late this year. In addition to the cold December, the very dry spring may have gotten the fruit off to a slow start.

                  I bought some amazing "golden nugget" mandarins today from Blossom Bluff at the Tuesday Ferry Building market. Tart, sweet, intensely flavorful.

                2. California citrus is probably running behind last year's schedule in terms of ripeness, since we had a pretty cold December. My backyard trees (in Glen Ellen) and my mother's (in Fair Oaks) are certainly less ripe than usual, but are getting better every week.

                  1. I gather it hasn't been a great year for citrus -- I was up in Seattle for the holidays, and noticed that lemons were going for something like three for $2 (or was it two for $3? -- I forget).

                    Meanwhile, my lemon tree keeps cranking them out. Voluminously. And deliciously. My mother is extremely jealous.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Solop

                      This weekend is mandarine and clementine picking time at Wolfe Ranch in Brentwood which is famous for their cherries and apricots in the Spring. I'm going there after the tyke attends a birthday party in Walnut Creek. They also have picked fruit for those of us that don't want to battle the trees. Here's a link to their announcement:


                      Peter A. Wolfe Ranch
                      164 Payne Ave, Brentwood, CA 94513

                      1. re: Solop

                        MM has, I guess, Eurekas at 29 cents and I hit a special in the last 2 weeks of Meyers for 65 cents/pound.

                      2. there are no more bees, frogs or newts, coral. now maybe the citrus is the next victim in the implosion of the eco system.

                        1. I too have been thinking it's an off year for citrus. But for me there isn't a consistent flaw; some are watery, others dry... I did finally get some excellent organic navel oranges at the Berkeley Bowl. 89 cents a pound, too! I'm hoping it's true what folks are saying, that it's just a late season.

                          1. I got some tangelos weekend before last at BB, and they made a truly excellent sorbet.

                            1. There's nothing wrong with the pomelo crop this year. I just bought some really sweet ones at Pacific Super on Alemany.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: caryjones

                                I also tried some amazing pomelo at Alemany Farmer's Market - the sweetest I've ever had.

                                At the big citrus stand on the south side of the market, near the middle.

                                I've also been eating grapefruit from the same people who sell the dates - the medium sized ones are 4 for 1 dollar, and they are excellent, sweet, pink grapefruits. These are at Alemany on Saturday and at Civic Center on Wed and Sun.

                                1. re: Dave MP

                                  The pomelo at Pacific Super are about twice the size of a softball and 4 lbs for a dollar

                              2. In late December/early January there were several freeze warnings. Sacramento TV news ran stories of a couple of citrus growers. One was picking early, another was using fans and smudge pots were mentioned.

                                1. You could have fooled me. At Monterrey Market, the Texas Ruby Red grapefruits are as good as ever and the blood orange juice is particularly sweet.

                                  1. I picked up some Tom Wilson navels at Andronico's and they were excellent. Best orange I've had in a long time. They were as good as anything I remember as a kid in SoCal except so-called family oranges that sit on someone's tree forever.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: ML8000

                                      I had them at a dinner party a couple Sundays ago and now understand what all the fuss is about. The Tom Wilson navel oranges are indeed great.

                                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                                        I just returned today after a week in India, attending my daughter's wedding! Would you believe, I brought one small suitcase filled with the Tom Wilson oranges and doled them out like they were gold.

                                        1. re: walker

                                          What an adventure for you! You know that it is traditional to hand out oranges at Chinese New Year as "gold", why not at an Indian wedding?

                                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                                            Oh, I didn't know that. What's funny is, driving around, I saw millions of roadside stands selling oranges; I told myself they couldn't be as good as mine. I'm surprised how well they held up; I even checked the suitcase and it made one plane change.