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It’s been a cold and stormy winter with a lot of much-needed rain, but now that the days are getting longer and warmer we just want to be outside soaking up sun. With most of our seasonal farmers markets opening back up over the next couple of months, there will be plenty of opportunities to get outside and stock up on the sweet fresh flavors of spring. In the next few months we’ll start to see cherries, berries, and even some early stone fruits, while our citrus season slowly comes to an end.

CITRUS

If you haven’t had your fill of citrus yet you’ve still got time to make all of the Meyer lemonade, mandarin mimosas, and kumquat marmalade you want, but don’t wait too long because California’s citrus season will be winding down in spring and by summer many varieties will be out of season. Blood oranges are only around for a short time through early spring, and other varieties of oranges such as Cara Cara and navel will be replaced with Valencia oranges, which will remain in season all summer long.  

Lemons can be found year-round but right now they are abundant and there are so many delicious and simple ways to preserve them. Our favorite ways to extend the lemon season are: lemon marmalade, limoncello, preserved lemons, and simply freezing lemon juice in ice cube trays.

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ASPARAGUS

Asparagus is coming into season now and just so happens to pair perfectly with lemon. Asparagus is a spring vegetable that starts popping up in March and is harvested until the first heat waves of June. Try topping grilled asparagus with a Meyer lemon hollandaise sauce. If you’re an asparagus fan, you can’t miss the San Joaquin Asparagus Festival in Stockton, “Asparagus Capital of the World.” This year’s festival will be held April 21st–23rd at the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds. 

CHERRIES

Cherries are one of those ultra seasonal fruits that flood the markets in early spring, then suddenly vanish before your eyes. Have you ever noticed how cherries aren’t used in many recipes? We’re fairly certain it’s because by the time we get them home from the market we’ve already eaten half the bag. Whether you like Bing or Rainier, your window of opportunity for California cherries is only open from mid-April until early June, so we suggest you bring home a bag of each—then maybe you’ll have enough to share.

BERRIES

Berries are always the first fruits to hit the markets in spring. Strawberries are pretty much in season year round on the Central Coast, but most Northern California farms will start harvesting in April with different varieties fruiting all summer long. California blueberries, boysenberries, blackberries, and raspberries will come into season in late spring and last through mid-summer.

Try Something New—Rhubarb

Although rhubarb is a vegetable, it is primarily used as a fruit in desserts. The bright red stalks are similar in appearance to celery, but tart in flavor. Rhubarb’s tart flavor pairs well with any fruit, especially berries. Try adding rhubarb to your favorite jam or pastry, or follow the recipe below for a delicious and simple strawberry rhubarb shrub.

Strawberry Rhubarb Shrub

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chopped rhubarb
  • 1 cup halved strawberries
  • 2 cups white balsamic vinegar or champagne vinegar
  • 2 cups sugar (or substitute any other sweetener)

Recipe:

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Pour into blender and blend on high 30 seconds or until very smooth. Strain though a mesh sieve to remove any seeds, then pour into sterile jars (we prefer empty Liquidology bottles). Will keep for one year in the refrigerator.

Note: When preparing rhubarb, be sure to remove the leaves entirely as they are poisonous.

Shrubs are great for making cocktails with or without the booze. 

The List

  • Meyer Lemons
  • Blood Oranges
  • Grapefruit
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Rhubarb
  • Asparagus
  • Spring Onions
  • Chard
  • Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Peach
  • Apricot
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