It was a gray morning ten years ago when the package landed on my steps with a thud. With a set of keys on the door I opened the box and found dozens of little tangerine oranges. A note from a friend promised to brighten up my day.

She was right. Oranges, a variety called Kishus from

Churchill’s garden

in Ojai, California, sunshine was in a box: tasty, sweet, seedless and not easy to peel. Since that citrus revelation ten years ago, in years that I am quite organized anyway, I have often ordered my box of winter kishus. Depending on the harvest, Churchill can be sold within a few days.

Before I joined the cult of Kishus, I hadn’t thought about ordering citrus fruits by post for years. When I was a child in the 1980s, my family brought home heavy bags of oranges and grapefruits after visiting my grandparents in Florida. Or, if we were lucky, someone would send us a box of Indian River fruit, with every ball tucked away in a green napkin. But as time went on, the boxes didn’t arrive and I can’t say I noticed.

But Kishus’ miracle made me wonder what else there was. I learned about apple and tomato varieties grown for their taste instead of being able to travel or sit on a shelf, but I couldn’t tell you what makes a navel orange or why all grapefruits look pink these days. Who grew the best citrus fruit? What species should I look for? Given the CO2 balance, is it worth transporting heavy fruit across the country?

To solve the puzzle I needed a short introduction about the state of the citrus industry, so I turned to

David Karp,

Fruit scientists are working on a database of modern citrus varieties. Historically, Florida has always grown citrus for juice and hand, he explained. Since 2000, diseases such as the greening of citrus fruits, a bacterial plague that ultimately leads to a decline in fruit production, have affected the state’s production. California currently dominates the fresh citrus fruit market, although the fruit is also grown in Florida, Texas and Arizona.

In California all kinds of citrus fruits are grown, but the production of mandarins has increased dramatically over the last two decades. Their name refers to their Chinese ancestry although, as far as we know, they are the same as the mandarins, which got their name because they once came from Tangier. There are dozens of species and varieties: Daisy, W. Moorcott Aphurer, Lee et al. But it’s rare to hear their names. Most are sold in boxes of the brand Cuties or Halos, which contain different varieties depending on the growing region and the season. The quality is also variable: sometimes pleasantly sweet and juicy, sometimes boring and tasteless.

Why Mail-Order Citrus Is Totally Worth It: A Smart Shopper’s Guide

MAIL SALES If there is something to do last spring, the mail order fruit growers are in for a busy season.

Photo:

Ted + Chelsea Cavanaugh for The Wall Street Journal, Caitlin Hatch Brown’s Food Style, Carla Gonzalez-Hart’s Props Style.

Here comes the mail order. Buy directly from small growers and you will rediscover older varieties, such as the dark orange Daisy mandarin orange, which Karp calls a god who came to earth among citrus fruits, or the bittersweet Temple orange, which has lost popularity because it is considered too grainy. While some growers pick the fruit early to ensure that it survives refrigerated transport, good farms pick the fruit when it is in bloom and generally do not allow the skin to develop, affecting both shelf life and lack of flavour.

The taste depends on the microclimate and time of harvest, like grapes, he said.

Emily Ayala,

whose family has been growing citrus fruits at Friend’s ranch in Ojai since the 1890s. The Satsuma will be a little sour at the end of November, but will be fabulously sweet in January.

Remembering ideal varieties and microclimates can be fun for some. (If that’s your thing, the University of California, Riverside, maintains a database of over 1,000 species). I hope the farmers sell the best. A friend grows 18 kinds of tangerines, plus lemons, blood oranges and avocados. We literally use my children as guinea pigs, Ayala told me. Everything we love is going in the box this week.

Jim Churchill.

of Kishu’s fame built his farm on scents. In 1980 he happened to try a then little known variety, the Pixie mandarin, and was so excited that he ordered 80 trees. He knew he was up to something when he found a note on a paper bag on the windshield of the car: I need more of those little tangerines.

The news quickly spread from Ojai to Berkeley, which was already a hotbed of Californian cuisine at the time. Leprechauns were such a big thing, late citrus, that you could come in the spring, he said.

Lindsay Scherer,

the original confectioner of Chez Panisse. She made sorbets or removed the membranes of each small segment and served them in champagne syrup.

In Florida the amount of inheritance land has decreased, but there are still some gems left. Hollieanna Groves, in Maitland, Florida, has been in business since 1954. It provides temples, honey bubbles (also called Minneola tangelos) and hard to find Duncan grapefruits. Named after the farmer who introduced them in 1892, the turkeys from Virginia are almost gone, despicable for their fertile seeds. And yes, there are many, but they are conveniently grouped in the middle of the fruit and can be removed quite quickly.

And what a bribe! The duncans are juicy and refreshing, spicy but not bitter. I’ve placed an order for this year. You should.

Jason Lingle,

Co-owner Hollianna says there aren’t many Duncan trees left, thanks to citrus cultivation. His can only last a few years.

I eat my duncans the old-fashioned way, straight from the spoon at breakfast. A little of their juice would also make a spectacular icing for the olive oil and vanilla cupcakes that have become a staple in our house during the forties. Blood oranges bring a delicious bitterness and color to cakes or my favorite orange-almond cake. On the spicy side, the classic combination of orange and fennel gives a daring taste to mussels or pork. I also like citrus fruits with bitter green like escarole or as a glaze for roasted sprouts.

Many mail order fruit growers are expecting a busy year, according to last spring. (For example, Friend’s had twice as many shipping orders in April as last year). Healthy and delicious citrus fruits are an ideal gift in the midst of a pandemic and this holiday season will certainly be one of the strangest of all time. Order your sun box, and like me, you’ll soon be able to make a habit of it.

Gastrique is a nice name for a simple sweet and sour sauce based on sugar and vinegar. Here the orange colour of the blood adds depth and colour. The sauce cuts through the richness of scallops and works equally well on pork chops or duck.

Why Mail-Order Citrus Is Totally Worth It: A Smart Shopper’s Guide

Ted + Chelsea Cavanaugh for The Wall Street Journal, Caitlin Hatch Brown’s Food Style, Carla Gonzalez-Hart’s Props Style.

Ingredients

For the salad:

    • 1 medium-sized fennel bulb, very thinly cut, preferably mandolin style (about 2 cups), plus leaves.
    • 3 endive heads, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
    • 2 blood oranges

For the sauce:

    • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
    • 1½ tablespoon white wine vinegar
    • 1 cup of orange juice (about 4 oranges)
    • 1 cup sodium low or sodium free chicken stock
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the bandage:

    • 1 tablespoon chopped onions
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • ¼ cup of olive oil

For scallops:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 large scallops (about 2 pounds)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Start the salad: Combine the fennel and endive in a medium sized bowl.
  2. Blood apple segment: Use a sharp knife to cut the top and bottom of the fruit. Place yourself with the orange paint facing up and cut out the shell and core with brush strokes downwards. Cut off the remaining white piece. Work over the bowl to collect the fruit, insert the blade between the membrane and the flesh to loosen the segments. Squeeze the juice from the remaining membrane into a small separate bowl. (You should have about a tablespoon and a half.)
  3. Put a Band-Aid on it: In a small bowl or pot, mix the shallots, the blood juice squeezed from the membranes, salt and pepper. Add the olive oil and shake or screw the lid of the jar until it is emulsified. Hold the bandage until you’re ready to serve.
  4. Prepare the sauce: In a small saucepan, mix the sugar and 2 tablespoons of water. Bring to the boil on low heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat to medium and simmer without stirring until the liquid is dark golden brown. Bubbles become larger and burst more slowly when the cooking process is complete. Be careful, because it can go from brown to burnt in a few seconds.
  5. Carefully add the vinegar as it will crack and solidify in the liquid. Stir again until the liquid, then add the orange juice and stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 1 cup ½, 15-18 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Never mind.
  6. Prepare the scallops: Place the scallops on a kitchen towel and pat dry. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  7. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. If the oil is hot but does not smoke, add the scallops and make sure the pan is not overloaded. Cook until the bottom is golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the pan over and fry until done, about 2 minutes.
  8. Prepare the salad: Add the orange segments to the fennel and the endive. Divide the dressing over the salad.
  9. Divide the salad over 4 plates. Put 2 tablespoons of sauce in each plate and put 3 scallops on top. Garnish with fennel twigs.

ORANGE ARE YOU GLAD YOU KNOW?

A guide to the most popular citrus fruits.

Belly button

Which most of us think of when we think of an orange. In fact, the term umbilical cord applies to many varieties, including Washington, Dream and Cara Cara (see below). They all have a clean and sweet taste in common, a thick and gravelly crust and a notch on one side that gives them their name.

Clementine

A kind of small, sweet, seedless mandarin. Fruit labeled halos and cute are sometimes, but not always, clementines.

Kishu

This small Japanese mandarin – whether eaten two or three times – is seedless, has a loose skin and a tasty, almost pungent crust.

Mandarin Lee

Lee did not survive the mass market test because it is relatively difficult to clean and because it contains seeds. But its explosive juice and sweet and sour taste make it a popular citrus fruit.

Daisy SL Mandarin

The Daisy variety is appreciated for its flavour, despite its grainy character. SL, or seedless version, is a relatively new, easy-to-handle hybrid that citrus specialist David Karp calls a god who has come to earth among citrus fruits.

Kara Kara

The navel type, Cara Cara Orange, has pink flesh like a grapefruit. Cara Cara is very sweet and slightly less bitter than other navels.

Honeywell

This bell-shaped fruit, also known as Minneola, is a cross between a Duncan grapefruit and a Dancy mandarin. It is very juicy and easy to peel.

Blood orange

Many varieties coming from Italy or Spain are called blood oranges – Moro, Tarocco and Sanguinello. They all have dark red or purple flesh and a complex flavour that combines citrus and raspberry notes.

Rio Star Grapefruit

More is better in Texas. Therefore, this popular strain of the state is fiery red, not just pink, and ultra soft. Ruby Candy, also from Texas, has a similar taste.

Duncan Grapefruit

The Duncan, once Florida’s most popular grapefruit, has fallen into disuse because of its seeds – a dozen in a single fruit. But the juiciness and stellar taste of the cake make it worth the inconvenience.

We asked for a combination of navel- and blood oranges because it looks nice on the plate, but actually every orange is enough. You can also replace red beets with golden beets if they are easier to find. Za’atar is available in many supermarkets; you can also buy Z&Z perfume brand on Amazon.

Why Mail-Order Citrus Is Totally Worth It: A Smart Shopper’s Guide

Ted + Chelsea Cavanaugh for The Wall Street Journal, Caitlin Hatch Brown’s Food Style, Carla Gonzalez-Hart’s Props Style.

Ingredients

  • ¾ gold turnips per pound
  • 1 large orange navel
  • 1 large royal orange
  • ½ cup of Greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons of olive oil, and more for sprinklers
  • Salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoon za’atar
  • 2 tablespoons roasted pumpkin seeds
  • 4 large mint leaves, torn

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove turnip greens, if present. Wash and dry the beets and wrap them in aluminium foil. Place the foil on a baking tray and fry until the beets can be easily pierced with a knife, 50-60 minutes.
  2. Take the beet out of the oven and let it cool down slightly. Push the beet skins with your fingers or with a butter knife. When the beets have cooled down, cut them into thick wedges.
  3. Prepare the oranges: Use a sharp knife to cut the top and bottom of the fruit. Place yourself with the orange paint facing up and cut out the shell and core with brush strokes downwards. Cut off the remaining white piece. Cut the oranges crosswise into ¼ inch thick circles. You should have a dozen.
  4. Mix the yogurt in a small bowl with 2 teaspoons of olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
  5. Prepare the salad: Place a spoonful of yogurt on a plate and divide each blob with a spoon over a comma. Sprinkle the yogurt with a quarter za’atar. Arrange the orange and beet slices next to the yoghurt. Drizzle the salad with olive oil and sprinkle with salt to taste. Garnish with pumpkin seeds and mint leaves.

The author of the cookbook, Dorie Greenspan, has edited this great citrus cake from the famous Parisian confectioner Gérard Mulot. We’ve custom made it again using multiple varieties and crosses of oranges for a more modern look. The recipe is not particularly complicated, but requires planning. The oil has to be cooled to ambient temperature for some components, to ambient temperature for others, and there is often downtime between steps. Since it is preferable to bake the cake in one day, it is best to prepare the almond paste and the cream in one day, then bake blind and assemble the cake on the day you want to serve it.

Why Mail-Order Citrus Is Totally Worth It: A Smart Shopper’s Guide

Ted + Chelsea Cavanaugh for The Wall Street Journal, Caitlin Hatch Brown’s Food Style, Carla Gonzalez-Hart’s Props Style.

Ingredients

Special features :

    • 9 or 9-½ inch ribbed cake mould with removable bottom.
    • Weight of pies or dried beans

For the cake dough:

    • 1 ½ cup of flour for all purposes
    • ½ cup of icing sugar
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • 9 tablespoons of cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
    • 1 large egg yolk

For the almond cream:

    • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • ⅔ cup of sugar
    • ¾ cup of almond flour
    • 2 teaspoons of flour for all purposes
    • 1 teaspoon cornmeal
    • 1 large egg
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

To fill the cake:

    • 2-3 fleshy oranges like. B. Navel, Cara Cara, Blood Orange or Mix

Serve:

  • confectioner’s sugar, for dust removal

Directions

  1. Make a cake tin: In the food industry, legume meal, sugar and salt are processed into confectionery. Add the butter and pulse again until the butter is the size of the peas. Stir in the egg yolk and add two parts, pulsating after each addition.
  2. Keep working in long pulses of 10 seconds each until the dough forms lumps and curd. Loosen the worktop and knead lightly to process the remaining dry ingredients. Form the dough into a slice, wrap it well and put it in the fridge for a few hours. (The dough can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days).
  3. Take the cooled dough out of the fridge and let it warm up for about 10 minutes. Place it between two sheets of wax or parchment paper and roll it in a circle at least 12 inches in diameter and about ¼ inch thick.
  4. Place the dough in the cake tin and cut it so that it is just above the top of the cake tin. (The dough shrinks during baking.) Pierce the crust with a fork and put it in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a piece of aluminium foil and press it firmly against the crust. Fill the pan with pie weights or beans and bake for 25 minutes.
  6. Remove the foil and weights, put the pan back in the oven and bake until lightly browned, 3-5 minutes longer. Cool the cake on a wire rack before you fill it.
  7. Make almond cream: Mix the butter and sugar in a food processor until smooth. Add the almond flour and mix, then add the flour and cornstarch, and then the egg. Add the vanilla and stir until the cream is smooth, about 15 seconds. Use the cream immediately or place in the refrigerator until ready to use. (It will be stored, tightly closed, for 3 days, but may need to be warmed up to distribute it well).
  8. Prepare the oranges: Use a sharp knife to cut the top and bottom of the fruit. Place yourself with the orange paint facing up and cut out the shell and core with brush strokes downwards. Cut off the remaining white piece.
  9. Cut the oranges crosswise into ¼ inch thick circles. Remove the white pencil from the middle of each orange colour. (This leaves a small hole, but it is filled with almond cream. ) Drain the oranges on three-ply paper towels for at least an hour and a maximum of three hours.
  10. Put the cake together: Place the rack in the middle position of the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees. Place a baking tray in line with baking paper and place the cake tin on top. Smooth and homogeneous almond cream in a pie crust. Arrange the orange slices in a decorative pattern by mixing and matching the sizes and colors. Don’t cover all the almond cream. It will rise and boil around the fruit.
  11. Bake the cake until the cream has risen and is golden brown, 50-60 minutes. (If you put a knife in the cream, it should come out clean.) Place the cake in the fridge and let it cool down to room temperature.
  12. Sprinkle the cake with icing sugar just before serving.

-Customized by Dori Greenspan. -Customized by Dori Greenspan.

WHERE CAN I BUY

We tested fruit from 8 orchards and postal services. They were our favorites.

Churchill Gardens, Ojai Valley, California.

Churchill is best known for his tangerine quiches: juicy and tasty bombs that often appear in the famous fresh fruit bowl of Chez Panisse in Berkeley. Now a cult product, they are only available in February and can be sold quickly. Subscribe to the mailing list to receive the message as soon as it becomes available. Orchard, which has been organic since 2007, also sells Pixie mandarins, Meyer lemons, avocados and much more. $96 plus shipping for a 9.3 pound case of kishus, tangerineman.com.

Friends Ranch, Ojai Valley, California.

Friend’s sells a wide variety of incredible citrus fruits, from little Ojai Pixies to Daisy SL and Clementines – every variety with the sunshine, the flashy taste so often lacking in grocery stores. We love the Plain Jane Box, which gives you about 9 pounds of fresh produce, without fancy packaging or other foreign items, at a reduced price. You can also choose from several other boxes containing a kind of citrus fruit, such as blood oranges or Pixie mandarins, or a choice, plus avocados. 59.50 for a box from Plain Jane, friendsranches.com.

Hollianna Groves, Maitland, FL.

One of the few orchards where you can find spicy white Duncan grapefruits – buy them while you can. The Honeybells and Navels on this family farm are also exceptional. 35 plus shipping costs for a tray of Duncan grapefruits weighing about 12 pounds, hollieanna.com.

Bi-Rite X Bittman Citrus Box, San Francisco, CA.

Writer Mark Bittman convinced the managers of Bi-Rite, San Francisco’s famous grocery store, to take advantage of a long-term relationship with the farmers and launch this mail order program to bring beautiful California citrus fruits to the East Coast. You can order a single box or take out a monthly subscription. Bi-Rite sends a mix of the best and the hottest of the season right now. 80 plus shipping costs per box of 10-12 books, biritemarket.com.

Pearson Ranch, San Joaquin Valley, California.

Pearson offers a particularly wide range of fruit: the usual navels, tangerines and grapefruits, but also bergamots, yuzus and finger files. The farm is best known for its three varieties of blood oranges – Maro, Sanguinelli and Tarocco – with their dark flesh and sharp taste. 35 plus shipping costs for a 10-pound box of blood oranges, pearsonranch.com

To discover and find all our recipes, visit our new WSJ recipes page.

The Wall Street Journal is not paid for by retailers who appear in its articles as selling merchandise. The shops mentioned are often not the only ones.

Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

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