Market Digest: Early Season Tangerines

Written by
Omar Estrada of Friend’s Ranch and cookbook author Amelia Saltsman share a bag of clementines and a smile.

As fall fades into winter, citrus fruits, like tangerines, oranges, kumquats, lemons and grapefruits become abundant at the Santa Monica Farmers Market. Most citrus fruits won’t hit their peak juiciness and flavor until after the new year, but the clementines and satsuma varieties of tangerines take the pole position, peaking in November and December.

The prized citrus trees of Friend’s Ranch have thrived for over a hundred years in the Ojai Valley. Omar Estrada’s family has tended to their farmlands for three generations. To say that he is familiar with its citrus trees would be an understatement. He’s excited to show off his clementines, which are just starting to ripen and have a smooth, bright orange skin and a juicy, flavorful flesh. The satsuma tangerines are also nice and ripe, but approaching the end of their run. They are seedless and have an easy-to-peel orange, puffy skin. You can look forward to Friend’s Ranch featuring roughly two new tangerine varietals each month and a total of twelve throughout the winter and spring.

Friend's Ranch - Clementines
Clementines are officially in season! (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

Local and seasonal produce at the Santa Monica Farmers Market was the inspiration for Amelia Saltsman’s recipes in her newest book, The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen. Amelia points out that, historically, food was always influenced first by region, then by culture.

This week, Amelia kindly shares her seasonal recipe for Roast Chicken with Tangerines, Green Olives and Silan (date syrup). It’s a warm, bright, hearty dish that celebrates winter’s first exciting fruit. The tangerines are a great contrast to the meatiness of the chicken in both texture and flavor. The silan acts as a natural varnish, giving the chicken its beautiful, glossy skin.

You can find Amelia Saltsman’s recipe for Roast Chicken with Tangerines, Green Olives and Silan here.