Pixie tangerine season arrives early in Ojai

Wednesday, April 12, 2017
Pixie tangerine season arrives early in Ojai
Pixie tangerine season has arrived early in Ojai to the delight of many.

OJAI, Calif. (KABC) -- The Pixie tangerine is a fan favorite at The Oaks in Ojai where Food Services Director Christine Denney can be seen whipping up creations using the area darling.

"They're seedless. They're lower in acid. They're enjoyable in all kinds of foods," Denney explained.

Some food combinations include Pixie asparagus salad, Pixie tapenade, a mean green tangerine smoothie and even chocolate pixie bites.

The Oaks is one of the sponsors of Pixie month, but most everyone gets in on the action.

"Everyone wears their orange and they're Pixie proud walking around. Some of the restaurants create Pixie tangerine martinis, Pixie tangerine cheesecake," said Peter Bowen, the general manager of The Oaks at Ojai.

The local favorite is featured in Pixie ice cream, Pixie Kombucha tea, and Agave Maria's Pixie margarita.

Enjoyed as far away as Japan, the Pixie is a bit of a transient fruit. It was created at the University of California, Riverside, in the 1920s where they bred a Saigon King Mandarin with an American Kinsey.

"It was available since the 40s, but they didn't think it was a commercial variety: Too small, wasn't orange enough," said Tony Thacher of Ojai Pixie Packers.

Fourth generation Ojai resident Thacher said they grew them at Friends Ranches in the 70s, today 53 family farms are on board.

"It's a big deal, 7 million pounds this year," said Thacher.

Along with eating them, some even wear the Pixies.

"We have our own special blend that has lemon grass and Pixie tangerine. We cut a Pixie and fresh squeeze it into their scrub and apply it all over their body," said Sophia Orozco, The Oaks spa director.

Pixie season is in full swing, but the little orange orb should be around for a couple of months for visitors to try.