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Citrus choices expand

Speciality varieties of citrus fruit such as mandarins and tangerines continue to find new customers


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In recent years, the trend in the California citrus business is evident. Speciality varieties of citrus fruit such as mandarins and tangerines continue to find new customers. The Rising C Ranch in the small Central Valley town of Reedley is a perfect example of how specialty citrus is booming. Started by Eric and Kim Christensen in 1988, the farm was relatively small at first. It was made up of only one orange grove, but the Christensens quickly discovered that finding a niche would prove to be their key to success.

"If we were going to compete on a very small scale we had to, first off, grow and sell something that was going to taste good, and then something different and unique," Eric said. "We felt that there were trends coming with different varieties and so we thought we'll try to capitalize on that."

And from small ideas sometimes come big success, which was definitely the case here.

Today, the couple owns and operates more than 130 acres of specialty citrus that includes 14 types of mandarins, 11 types of oranges, six varieties of limes, five types of lemons and grapefruit, and a variety of other produce specialties. And thanks to an ever-evolving Web site, their citrus can be found in restaurants, stores and homes all over the United States. The farm's fan base grows as customers learn about all the different kinds of citrus available these days.

One of those fans is chef Patti Dellamonica-Bauler of One Market in San Francisco. Located in a city known for being particularly savvy about food, the restaurant thrives thanks in large part due to a willingness to try new products from farmers ready to supply them and eager chefs ready to prepare them.

"A pastry chef would be hard pressed to do her job without citrus," Patti said. "Citrus is one of those things, it just highlights everything. You can't overwhelm it, but a little citrus tossed into something you're doing will almost always elevate your cuisine."

So while the early, lush groves of oranges gave California its citrus legacy, it is now up to the talented chefs and farmers of the state to preserve that legacy for future generations—one sweet slice of specialty citrus at a time!

For more information about the Rising C Ranch, visit www.ripetoyou.com.

For more information about One Market Restaurant, visit www.onemarket.com.


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