The first satsuma tangerines of the season are now at the Farmers’ Market. Satsumas are the earliest tangerine of the season and are a little earlier than usual this year. They are the most popular variety of tangerine not only because they are so refreshing and delicious, but also because they are seedless and easy to peel. Troy Regier of Regier Family Farms color picks his fruit and continually checks his satsuma trees for ripeness so he can judge their taste and color. Don’t pass up a tangerine, just because it looks a little green; a green tangerine can still be ripe. In the sun, the fruit turns orange first. Regier picks his fruit the day before coming to market and never stores it; he keeps the fruit on the tree as long as possible. In rainy weather he drapes the trees to protect them. After one month on the tree, satsumas develop an air layer between the flesh and the skin making them even easier to peel. Satsumas make a great snack and kids love them too, because they can peel them on their own and the fruit tastes so sweet. Regier says this is a good year for satsumas and they will continue to get sweeter and sweeter, becoming like candy by December. You can also find satsumas at Penryn Orchard, Schaner Farms and Garcia Organic Farm.
Sprinklings of red and green gems of strawberry and pineapple guava are popping up at farmers’ stands. There are many different members of the guava family and pineapple guava, or feijoa, is not actually a guava, but another genus, although all are members of the myrtle family. Pineapple guavas are slightly oval shaped with a thin, green skin. The interior flesh is cream-colored, somewhat jelly-like and sometimes contains seeds. They have a sweet and tart taste. A ripe pineapple guava should feel similar to a ripe avocado and can also ripen at room temperature. You can find pineapple guava at Friends Ranch and Polito Family Farm.
Strawberry guavas are small, round red jewels that are very rare and named not for their flavor but for their color. They taste like a guava, and are pink and creamy inside. They are excellent for cooking, too, and make delicious sauces and syrups. Betty B’s Ranch and Coleman Family Farms grow strawberry guavas. Jaime Farms has bright green Thai guavas. Thai guavas are large and can be eaten like an apple, skin and all. Their texture, firm and crunchy, is similar to an apple as well, but tastes like a guava. Mixed in with the Thai guavas, Jaime Farms also has strawberry-pineapple guavas. Strawberry-pineapple guavas look like slightly wrinkled limes on the outside and are light pink, tender and juicy on the inside. They have a wonderful tart taste to enjoy raw and are wonderful in desserts.
Friends Ranch has green papaya at their stand. Unlike yellow flesh papaya, green papaya has a light flesh with light seeds and remains firm when ripe. Green papaya is usually shredded. For an excellent Thai dish, try making green papaya salad.