It used to be that we called them tangerines and they were a Christmas treat.
Today we know better. These small, easy-peeling citrus fruits come in a wide variety, and the season extends well into spring. In fact, no offense to the Satsumas and Clementines we've been enjoying so far, but now is when mandarins really start to get interesting.
A perfect example is the Page, one of the most richly flavored members of the family. The first harvests of the year have been trickling into markets over the last couple of weeks from northern San Diego County. The Page is a cross between a Clementine and a tangelo and is a little more difficult to peel than the Satsuma or Clementine. If it's not grown in isolation, it will have seeds.
But it also has a deep, fruity flavor -- it is one of the best mandarins for juicing.
In the coming weeks, also keep your eyes peeled for Lees, Dancys and, of course, the fabulous Pixies from the Ojai Valley.