In the foothills above Lake Oroville in California is a small, sustainably run, family oriented citrus farm – Morse Farms. The owners, John and Glenda Morse, are native to the Oroville Area and began this five acre Mandarin Farm about twelve years ago. Their main crop is the seedless Satsuma Mandarin, but they also have lemons, oranges, grapefruits and Minneolas.
We were privileged to visit the farm during the Sierra-Oro Farm Tour, and were treated to samples of meat balls with their Mandarin Jalapeno BBQ Sauce and also a wonderful Mandarin Sheet Cake. The BBQ sauce is excellent – spicy and tangy and sweet, all at the same time. We had to buy some!
Morse Farms also partners with the Feather Falls Casino Brewing Company to make their Emperor’s Mandarin Wheat Beer, and we were given a generous sample, even though it was only 10:30 in the morning! Oh well, it was 5:00 PM somewhere in the world, right??!! It was really good, but this beer is a specialty, and rightly so isn’t brewed year round. We are just going to have to go to the casino to get some more before it’s all gone!
We took a tour through their mandarin orchard and were able to see the trees absolutely laden with fruit! I was actually surprised that Satsuma Mandarins would survive and do so well at the elevation of this farm, but Glenda explained to us that these Mandarins are of the Owari variety with their rootstock being Tri-Folia, which means they can withstand some frosty temperatures.
The farm no longer uses smudge pots like the one in the picture on the left. These were used in the old days (they are polluting and didn’t really work very well) and now just turn on sprinklers when the temperature falls below 27 degrees Fahrenheit. Ice forms around the leaves and fruit and actually insulates it from the colder temperatures! I am so glad to know this because I have a Tango Mandarin and I wasn’t sure if it would survive where our future homestead will be! It’s in a large pot, so I was assuming I would have to bring it inside for the winter – but maybe not! It rarely gets below 27 degrees where we will be building our house, so I suppose if I leave it in the pot and put it on the front porch (the pot is beautiful, and so is the tree – it’s a dwarf), then I should only have to protect it on the coldest of nights!
You can click on the picture to read it better. I am so glad to see that they are careful with their use of water for irrigation. Wells in the mountains and foothills are not at all like wells in the valley – and are susceptible to being pumped dry.
On the tour through the orchard we saw several signs just chock full of information, such as this one to the left. According to this sign (it’s true, I looked it up on other sources) one Mandarin is only 45 calories!
I like mandarins because they are seedless, easy to peel, and taste great!
When we got home from the tour, one of the first things we had to do was cook with the Mandarin Jalapeno BBQ Sauce. Ray had just recently caught another salmon (yum), so we decided to try marinating it in the BBQ sauce for a few hours in the refrigerator, then grilling it on the BBQ. Words cannot describe how good this was!
As a final note, I would like to share with you the recipe of the Mandarin Sheet Cake that we sampled while on our tour of the Morse Mandarin Farm.
MANDARIN SHEET CAKE
1 pkg white cake mix (or make your own)
1 cup water
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup Morse Farms Mandarin Marmalade
3 Egg whites
Heat oven to 350 degrees. In large bowl combine all cake ingredients; beat at low speed until moistened, then beat 2 minutes on medium speed. Pour batter into prepared (ie. spray with cooking spray or butter and floured) 9 x 13 cake pan. Also fills two 8″ or 9″ round cake pans.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes (check often) or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.
2/3 cup butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup Morse Farms Mandarin Marmalade
1/4 cup Morse Farms Mandarin Syrup
1 to 3 tablespoons milk
In large bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy, gradually add powdered sugar beating well after each addition. Beat in mandarin marmalade and syrup. Add milk 1 tablespoon at a time beating until of desired spreading consistency. When serving, drizzle a little more syrup on the cake and serving plate for a wonderful presentation!
For more recipes using their mandarin products, you can go to their website – click HERE.
If you would like to try out the wonderful beer brewed with mandarins at the Feather Falls Casino, you can get more information by visiting their website – click HERE.
Just FYI – I have not been paid to mention or recommend any of these products or businesses. The Morse Mandarin Farm was included in the Sierra-Oro Farm Trails Tour, If you are ever in Oroville, CA, you might want to visit one of these!
I adore any comments, advise or stories you may have – come on – speak up! I try to answer each and every one!
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