This time of year we residents of the San Gabriel Valley are reminded daily of why our predecessors struggled and took risks to move from the frozen midwest or the chilly east: Citrus fruit. It blew their mind that here in the U.S. was a fertile land where frost was as rare as tornadoes, and ranchers could grow more oranges and lemons that they ever dreamed possible.
The days of 12,000-acre citrus ranches are gone, but their descendants live on in every neighborhood, from the modest to the elegant. The crop seems strong this year, and once you start looking, you’ll see the abundance everywhere: the satsumas peeking over a backyard wall, the dwarf Meyer lemons in a pot by the front door, the elderly but still productive kumquat tree aside a driveway, a huge and laden navel orange tree right in a front yard, more tempting that Satan’s apple in the garden of Eden. (Listen to your good angel: Don’t help yourself to neighbor’s fruit without asking.)
This year at my house, our kumquats are in short supply, but our Meyer lemon crop is booming, and our juice oranges are looking good, too. What’s suddenly ripe at your place?