Gather your recipe books and download your favorite cooking shows for the time to create razzle-dazzle has arrived. Living in Sacramento and the surrounding area can give your holiday cooking extra flavor and zest thanks to the fresh ingredients easily found from local growers and purveyors.
Still looking for a holiday gift sure to please? Some of these businesses we’ve listed ship across the country and around the world. It is best to call first to check availability and hours of operation, especially with ranches and farms who are weather dependent.
Open Thurs 12 p.m. – 7 p.m.; Fri and Sat, 12 p.m. – 9 p.m.; Sun 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Artisan cheeses thrive in Winters. Among the cheeses are a fragrant fresh sage swirled through tangy Cheddar. Tomato basil Cheddar brings forth the memory of summer. Local native Daniel Turkovich studied to become a winemaker. While at school he found he like making cheese better. The wine business’ loss was a win for Winters when he returned home as an artisan cheese maker. Feel free to walk down the street from the tasting room to see aging wheels of cheese through large windows.
Amador Olive Oil Company
Unfiltered and extra virgin Amador Olive Oil is the “baby” of owner Susan Bragstad. For almost twenty years she has been producing oil from trees on her own ranch as well as historic groves across the county. Available in 5oz., 12.7oz. and 25.4oz., bottles AOO can be found throughout the county in retail shops such as Andrae’s Bakery in Amador City and the Terre Rouge and Montevina Wineries in Shenandoah. Susan also sells at the farmers’ markets in Sutter Creek and Pine Grove.
Open Tuesday – Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Mandarin season is November through January making it perfect for the holiday season. Many growers in the Penryn, Auburn and Newcastle section of Placer County are open for the public to buy direct from them. One such is Thomas Ranch. They grow seedless Satsuma Mandarins in addition to kiwifruit, Hachiya and Fuyu persimmons and Meyer lemons. Mandarins’ citrusy taste can be used for a wide array of baking and cooking uses. Anyone serving ribs at a holiday soiree will enjoy the new mandarin infused BBQ sauce.
Mariani Nut Company
While the Mariani Nut Company of Winters sells around the country it does not have a public store at its headquarters. Luckily, there are ways to buy their Yolo County walnuts and almonds right in Winters. The Winters Product Store and Visitors Store is found at 11 Main Street and open on varying hours Tuesdays through Sundays.
Open Friday – Sunday (September – December) 9 a.m – 5 p.m.
The Campbell family’s Rainbow Orchards in the Apple Hill region of El Dorado County offers tasty alternatives to high calorie holiday offerings. Fresh picked pear varieties feature Bartlett, Bosc and Asian. Apples are available is 15 varieties, including Jonagold, Winesap and Braeburn and as a cider. Over 20 types of squash offer many ways to be stewed, baked or made into a soup for the holiday table.
Linda J. Bottjer is a full-time writer working in Sacramento. Follow her at www.words4sail.com.