Food, Made in the 805, Ventura County

Made in the 805: Those sweet, petite, and oh-so-good-to-eat Ojai Pixies

There’s no getting around seeing and hearing about those Ojai Pixies at this time of the year.

They’re featured in everything–from drinks, ice cream, and even spa treatments. They’re basically everywhere!

But, what exactly is an Ojai Pixie? And how are they different from the Halos/Cuties and other varieties you regularly see at the grocery store?

There are hundreds of varieties of tangerines worldwide. An Ojai Pixie, though, is a late season variety tangerine, a hybrid result of pollination between a King Mandarin and a Kincy tangerine. They are sweet, seedless, and easy to peel.

About 52 family-scale farms, part of the Ojai Pixie Growers Association, independently grow the tangerines on about 25,000 trees in the Ojai Valley.

Those farmers grow market their own fruit, so it really is a labor of love.

The farmers have had a challenging few years, recovering from the fire in 2017 and trying to survive through near-decade long drought. Thankfully, recent rain produced a good-sized crop in 2019.

March is when the tangerines ripen, and then they are sold as long as they are available until maybe May or June.

April is the official Pixie month in Ojai, so now is the time to get your fix!

Visitors at Ojai Valley Inn spa can enjoy a seasonal sweet Pixie tangerine body polish through May. More information is available here.

The Inn’s Executive Pastry Chef Joel Gonzalez is also incorporating the citrus in delicious desserts, such as as creme brulee, sorbet and tangerine-infused chocolate creations.

Ojai Pixie-infused cocktails are aplenty. Fresh-squeezed tangerine margaritas are available at Agave Maria’s, while Pixie Jun Kombucha can be found at Revel. Ojai Valley Brewery has a White Pixie Ale on tap and in bottles, brewed with Pixie tangerine zest, marmalade, and orchard blossoms.

Agave Maria’s Pixie margarita (Photo courtesy of Agave Maria’s)

Outside of Ojai, Ex Voto Chocolates and Confections in Ventura uses hand-juiced Pixies in their Tangerine Dream sherbet for a “delicate yet absolutely taste of spring.

Gelson’s Markets have smoothies featuring Ojai Pixie tangerines, bananas, dates, almond butter, and butternut squash.

For the cooks, there are great ideas and recipes at the Ojai Pixies main Web site , including: orange Popsicle ice cream push-ups; tangerine marmalade; sea bass with strawberry tangerine salsa; and tangerine Mascarpone ice cream. (For the recipes, go to http://www.ojaipixies.com/ojai-pixies-ideas-recipes/).

Tangerine mascarpone ice cream by Valentina, a chef and author of the Cooking on the Weekends blog (www.cookingontheweekends.com).

Ojai Pixies are available for purchase either in person or mail order at Friend’s Ranches, 15150 Maricopa Hwy. Their packinghouse is open from 7 a.m. to noon every Tuesday and Friday.

Friend’s Ranches also have a variety of Ojai Pixie merchandise available for sale, including t-shirts, hats, and lunch boxes designed by cartoonist Sergio Aragones.

Ojai Pixies can also be purchased at Certified Farmers Markets, as well as grocery outlets in Ojai, Santa Barbara, Solvang, Malibu, and throughout Southern and Northern California. A complete list of where to buy throughout the country: www.ojaipixies.com/where-to-buy-ojai-pixies/

To learn more about the Ojai Pixie growers: http://www.ojaipixies.com/meet-our-growers


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