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It's citrus season: What to toss, what to eat

March 20, 2010 | 10:05 am

"What's new and good?" is the natural question to ask at a farmers market. But in choosing citrus, particularly at this time of year, one must also be aware of the equally important flip side: "What's past its prime?" The symptoms of overmaturity are crucial but not always obvious.

Compared with other fruits like peaches or berries, many varieties of citrus hang on the tree for a long time, but like the best of us, they eventually grow old and decline. Farmers market growers, in contrast with commercial producers, have a natural incentive to stretch out the season as long as their supplies last, and they therefore may sell past best quality.

Let the buyer choose, or beware, seems to be the operating principle of many a vendor. Read more at David Karp's weekly Market Watch report and check out his photo gallery of citrus fruits. Consider it your guide to what to buy -- and what to pass by.

Photo credit: Daisy SL mandarin that is starting to break down. (David Karp / For The Times)