This year, the sunny weather attracted an estimated 30,000 visitors during the festival’s 3-day run. My husband and I attended the Mountain Mandarin Festival for the first time, and we agreed that next year, we would at least spend a day. Although mandarin season usually runs from mid-November through February, don’t miss this annual family-friendly event. Not only can you sample and buy mandarins directly from the Placer County family orchards of Penryn, Newcastle, Loomis, Lincoln, and Auburn, you can spend the day in a country fair setting.
If you don’t mind crowds, the Mountain Mandarin Festival has something for everybody. Get acquainted with mandarins and the farmers who raise these crops. This is farm-to-fork country, and mandarins have been around for over 125 years. You can sample the fruit and learn how to use them in your cooking. There is food, music and entertainment. If you want to begin your holiday shopping, there’s artists and vendors selling quality items and gifts.
Make sure you give yourself time to explore the fairgrounds. If you show up hungry, it’s hard to make a choice since food vendors offer everything from barbecue to chowder and lobster rolls. My husband and I made the mistake of sitting down for lunch with generous plates of Chinese food and fried zucchini. After lunch, we only had the energy to purchase a couple bags of mandarins before returning home.
Why are these mandarins so special? Here are some reasons:
- They are seedless, and are so easy to peel.
- They are a healthy snack–and addicting!
- The fruit is picked by hand, so it stays sweet and fresh.
- The Placer County Owari Satsuma mandarins contain high doses of Vitamin C and synephrine–good for cold and allergy symptoms.
Don’t be surprised if you leave the Mountain Mandarin Festival with at least two bags of mandarins–one to eat, and the other to share. If you missed this year’s festival, but want to purchase mandarins, the Mountain Mandarin Growers’ Association (MMGA) hosts its Orchard Days during the first and third weekends of December. You may purchase mandarins and mandarin-based products directly from the Placer County mandarin growers by visiting participating farms.
Need more information? Check out their website. If you feel like cooking with mandarins, easy recipes like the Mandarin Madness Milkshake are included.
Mandarin Madness Milkshake
1 cup fat free or 2% milk
2 tablespoons JELL-O Brand Orange Flavor Gelatin
1/3 cup mandarin orange segments, finely chopped
Pour milk into tall glass. Add gelatin; stir several minutes until gelatin is completely dissolved. Stir in oranges. Serve immediately.
When cooking or baking with mandarins, remove all the pith (white fiber). For the Mandarin Madness Milkshake (pictured above), I placed all ingredients, plus one cup of crushed ice, in a blender. Blend for several seconds before serving.