Juicy Fruit

Load up on Ojai citrus all winter long
Tasting Table

While we may no longer be threatened by scurvy, the winter season's beet-and-rutabaga produce monopoly still poses a very real risk of us losing our minds from boredom.

There's good news for our mental health, though: Ojai, California, where daytime February temperatures rarely dip below 60 degrees and the citrus trees are heavy with fruit. Hereafter, we'll refer to Ojai as Shangri-La.

For Valentine's day this year, you can share the valley's vitamin-rich treasures with your loved one. Jim Churchill, the Ojai farmer known as the "Tangerine Man" has recently begun shipping boxes of kishu mandarins nationwide; the seedless, walnut-size variety of Chinese origin is as rare and high-maintenance a fruit as you're likely to find Stateside. Churchill ships in quantities of either 9 or 25 pounds ($45 to $90, plus shipping).

Better than a chocolate sampler box is the variety offered by Churchill's neighbor, Friend's Ranch. Order now, and a box containing Meyer lemons, Bacon avocados and Murcott tangerines ($42 for 8 pounds, including shipping) could arrive on your doorstep before the end of the month.

If your sweetheart gets hooked--and who wouldn't--you can sign him or her up for three consecutive monthly shipments ($120, including shipping), which will keep the fruit supply high until spring arrives in your hometown.


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