Yesterday I had the privilege to go on a tour of the UC Riverside citrus cooperative with the San Diego Master Gardeners.
Our group tour was led by retired professor and citrus expert from U.C. Riverside, Ottillia Bier aka “Toots”. This lady knows her citrus, says she eats a ton of it, and claims to have never had to take an antacid. I think her other nickname might be “Iron Gut” but that’s just an assumption on my part.
Anyhoo…..the University of California Riverside Citrus Variety Collection has a citrus collection consisting of two trees each of more than 1000 different citrus types. We wandered through a huge orchard looking at, picking, slicing, chewing, juicing, spitting and throwing citrus pieces all over the place including: orange, grapefruit, lemon, lime, tangerine, navel, valencia, tangelo, pummelo, mandarin, moro, tarocco, jaffa, sanguinelli, calamondin, kumquat, bearss, satsuma, citron, dancy, nordmann, algerian, pink lemonade, delfino, ruby, eureka, oroblanco, cara cara, imperial, baygold, lisbon, nagami, marumi, clementine, valentine, marrakech, skaggs, variegated…..well, the list goes on and on. It was great! Everytime I thought I had tasted my new favorite, we’d move on to another tree and then I’d think THAT was the best.
One thing I was really curious to see was a citron tree. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get to that field so I was disappointed not to see the fruit on the tree, but “Toots” had one citron fruit that she brought with her for show and tell, so I was able to bring that home with me. I have found these at the Farmers’ Market in the past and they are so fragrant when you bring them in the house.
We were allowed to pick as much fruit as we wanted to bring home, so I had my bags at the ready and I collected a nice selection. I learned early on to pick only from the trees that “Toots” pointed out because a lot of fruit in the orchard looked ready to eat, but it only took one sour one (I ate an orange that was a 9 on a pucker factor scale of 1 to 10 – it took a minute to recover from that one!) to learn that lesson. Over all, some of my favorites were the seedless Kishu tangerine, the Cocktail which was a combo of a pummelo and a mandarin, and the Tarocco blood orange.
It was a fun, interesting and delicious day. And I was glad I remembered to pack my Tums!
CITRUS TOUR AT RIVERSIDE(Run your mouse over the picture to push the play button)