This article was originally published in January 2016
Most produce is available throughout the course of the year, but everything has a peak season when it’s at its most delicious. With a little advance warning, you’ll know to plan ahead so you don’t miss your favorites.
Local leeks are at their best through early spring, ready to lend their sweet, delicate flavor to soups, omelets and side dishes. Grown in the fertile soil of the Skagit Valley (the farm has been certified organic since 1988), these organic leeks are fantastically fresh and crisp. Stored unwashed, untrimmed and wrapped loosely in plastic, they should stay usable for up to two weeks in the refrigerator. To clean, trim off roots and bottom inch of white, slice lengthwise and gently fan the layers under running water to clear away any trapped soil.
The Johansen Ranch in Orland, California, has been one of our favorite citrus growers since the late 1980s. The Washington variety of navel orange has thick skin that makes them easy to peel; they’ve been grown in California since 1870. They’re refreshingly sweet and juicy, bursting with robust flavor. While it’s easy to gobble sliced orange wedges, remember that they’re a versatile fruit when it comes to cooking. The flavor is especially great in salads with winter greens, or in marinades for pork or white fish. Oranges are packed with vitamin C, providing 100 percent of the daily value for an adult.
Meyer lemons are famous for their sweet, floral flavor and thin skin, making them ideal for salt preserving, marmalade or using unpeeled slices to top an upside-down cake. Even using them in a hot toddy can turn your soothing warm drink into something special. The organic farming methods used for our Meyer lemons mean that their delicate rinds aren’t collecting residue from the pesticides commonly used in conventional citrus farming. Unlike Eureka lemons, Meyers have a short season, making them as exciting as spring’s asparagus or summer’s sweet corn season. Get ‘em while you can!
Citrus fruit will last longest if stored in a mesh bag (or no bag) in the fridge. If you’re going to juice it, you’ll get more juice if you bring it up to room temperature before squeezing.