Garden Special: Satsuma Mandarins

We wait all year for Satsuma mandarins, a favorite winter citrus that arrives first in farmers markets, and then ripens later in our mini orchard, where our semi-dwarf tree adheres to the idiosyncratic schedule of all Orange County canyon gardens. The canyon microclimate, with its shorter days and lower temps—in winter, sometimes 10 degrees below Mesa or “flatland” highs—is a strong determinant. Thanks to weird weather last year, fruit from all over the state was late ripening, and our usually-December canyon Satsumas weren’t ready until January. Which was entirely OK—the farmers market mandarins I wrote about on the Nibbles & Bits food page in the January Orange Coast sustained us in the interim, and are just about peaking as we speak, so get them while you can. (Take a look at the updated, searchable farmers market guide here on the mag website.)

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