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BriarPatch: Orange ya glad mandarin season is here?

Submitted by BriarPatch Coop

Last week, people flocked to Placer County to participate in the annual Mountain Mandarin Festival at the Gold Country Fairgrounds in Auburn.

First started 28 years ago, the three-day celebration kicks off the Placer County mandarin season and attracts up to 35,000 visitors. Folks come for the fruit samples and bags of mandarins from local growers along with jams, jellies, infused olive oils, balsamic vinegar, chocolate, grilling sauces and body care products.

“I love watching people enjoy the event and seeing all the bags of fruit get sold,” said Executive Director Gary Gilligan. To date, the festival has returned over $1.2 million back to the community and every year provides six scholarships to local youth, said Gilligan.

Foothill mandarins are known for their flavor, says Farmer Rich Johansen who grows organic Owari Satsuma Mandarins, Meyer Lemons, Navel Oranges and Blood Oranges in Orland. He’s been supplying BriarPatch with fresh, organic produce since the 1970s. He remembers when Placer County’s Mandarin Festival was first organized to support local foothill growers.

The combination of budwood, a hardy rootstock that can withstand cold temperatures and well-drained soils makes Placer Grown mandarins stand out from the pack.

“The mandarins have a really nice flavor and they’re unique to California,” said Johansen. Johansen’s favorite way to consume mandarins is to “peel and eat” but he also likes to freeze a few for making smoothies later in the year.

Just in time for Thanksgiving, certified organic growers from Salerno Enterprises in Oroville will be supplying The Patch with enough mandarins to get through the holiday week.

Look for five-pound bags of Owari Satsuma mandarins and Meyer Lemons coming from Johansen Ranch beginning as early as next week.

Thanks to festival organizer Gary Gilligan for these tasty recipes for mandarin tacos and a no bake cheesecake, a welcome alternative to pumpkin pie for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Mandarin and White Chocolate (no-bake) Cheesecake is a welcome seasonal alternative to pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving.
Submitted by Gary Gilligan

Mandarin and White Chocolate (no-bake) Cheesecake


1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1/3 cup butter, melted

1/2 cup mandarin juice

1 envelope (.25 oz.) unflavored gelatin

2 cups (12 oz pkg.) white chocolate chips

2 pkgs (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 cup heavy whipping cream

2 Tbsp finely grated orange zest

Fresh mandarin slices, mandarin marmalade, whipped cream for garnish


Preheat oven to 350° F.

Combine crumbs and butter in a medium bowl. Press crumb mixture onto bottom of ungreased 9-inch springform pan. Bake for 10 minutes, cool in pan on a wire rack.

Combine mandarin juice and gelatin in small saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until gelatin dissolves.

Melt chips in medium, uncovered, microwave-safe bowl on medium high (70%) power for 1 minute, then stir. The chips may retain some of their original shape. If necessary, microwave at additional 10- to 15-second intervals, stirring just until melted.

Beat cream cheese and sugar in large mixer bowl until combined. Gradually stir in gelatin mixture and melted morsels.

Beat whipping cream in small bowl until soft peaks form. Gently fold whipped cream and orange zest into cheese mixture. Pour filling over crust. Cover; refrigerate for 6 to 24 hours or until firm. Garnish with mandarin segments, mandarin marmalade, and whipped cream.

Try an old favorite with a sweet twist when you make Mandarin Pork Tacos.
Submitted by Gary Gilligan

Mandarin Pork Tacos


1 Tbsp canola oil

1 lb thin boneless pork loin chops (1/2 inch thick), cut into strips

1/2 cup reduced-sodium teriyaki sauce

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp onion powder

4 flour tortillas (8 inches)

2 cups shredded romaine

1 lb Mandarin oranges, segmented

1/2 cup french-fried onions


In a large cast-iron or other heavy skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add pork; cook and stir until no longer pink, 4-5 minutes. Add teriyaki sauce, garlic and onion powder. Cook 3 minutes longer, stirring occasionally.

Using tongs, place about 2/3 cup pork mixture down center of each tortilla. Top with romaine, Mandarin oranges and onions. Serve immediately. If desired, serve with remaining pan sauce.

Find more recipes like a Mandarin Creamsicle Ice Cream (great with pumpkin pie) here: briarpatch.coop/recipes/

Farm to Table

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