The fruits of UC Riverside’s research are even easier to enjoy with the Citrus Gifts collection expanding its line of products and making them available online.
The collection, featuring marmalades and olive oils from citrus and bee research, have been sold in campus stores for about six years. In June, the campus began selling them online to expand their availability to the wider campus community and alumni.
“This idea of creating this very unique UCR gift item is a way to take a piece of UCR home with you,” said Leslie Gerretse, senior manager for Hospitality Services.
The decision to make them available online reflected their popularity with customers, particularly as graduation gifts, she said. With the campus and its stores closed due to COVID-19, the department wanted to quickly make gifts available to students in a convenient way, Gerretse said.
Online sales have been strong since the website launch, she said.
The line, which began with citrus products, has expanded to include honey from beehives managed by the Entomology Department’s Center for Integrative Bee Research, or CIBER. Body care products made from honey and/or citrus such as soaps and a honey lip balm were added last year. Other products include a honey-infused balsamic vinaigrette and a citrus-flavored chocolate bar.
Despite UCR’s long history of citrus research – dating to its incarnation as the Citrus Experiment Station beginning in 1907 – it wasn’t until recently that the campus began commercializing its citrus.
Dining Services has collaborated with the Givaudan Citrus Variety Collection at UCR and local vendors to produce items that take advantage of the diversity of citrus cultivated on campus. The Citrus Variety Collection includes over 1,000 types of citrus and related species of trees collected from all over the world or developed on campus, said Tracy Kahn, the collection’s citrus curator.
“There isn’t another campus or collection in the United States that has this level of citrus diversity,” she said.
Kahn, Gerretse, and Robert Getman, general manager of the Scotty’s stores, are the main group brainstorming ideas for products. They work with independent, local vendors to produce the items, keeping on top of the diversity of citrus varieties available and which of them are in season.
The partners include Redlands-based olive oil maker Lot22; E. Waldo Ward & Sons, a preserves firm in the San Gabriel Valley city of Sierra Madre; health and beauty vendor Principle Body Care in Redlands; and Parliament Chocolate in Redlands.
Kahn said they look for unique ideas that take advantage of the wide variety of citrus in the Citrus Variety Collection.
For instance, the Tango mandarin marmalade is made of a citrus variety that was a product of the UCR Citrus Breeding Program headed by Mikeal Roose, a professor of genetics in the Department of Botany and Plant Sciences. Tango mandarin is also produced commercially in California and around the world. In California, Tango is commonly included in Cutie and Halo trademarked boxes.
The blood orange marmalade combines four different cultivars. A recent addition is the sweet pickled Indio mandarinquat, a tangy condiment that has been used as a barbecue sauce at the Barn restaurant on campus.
“There’s a passion associated with putting these together,” Kahn said.
A portion of the sales proceeds go to the Citrus Variety Collection and CIBER.
“It promotes UCR, it provides this very unique product to have and share and it supports the efforts of the Citrus Variety Collection and CIBER through our sales of those products,” Gerretse said.
Citrus Gifts are available for ordering online at citrusgifts.ucr.edu.