Calamondin (× Citrofortunella microcarpa or × Citrofortunella mitis) is an important citrofortunella, meaning that it is an intergenetic hybrid between a member of the genus citrus (in this case probably the mandarin orange) and the kumquat belonging to Fortunella. Calamondin is used mainly as an ornamental tree, rather than for food, although the fruit is edible.
Calamondin is called by many names, including: calamonding, calamondin orange, calamansi, calamandarin, golden lime, kalamunding, kalamansi, Philippine lime, Panama orange, Chinese orange, musk orange and acid orange.
Even the botanical name has its portion of confusion, the calamondin was formerly identified as Citrus mitis Blanco, C. microcarpa Bunge or C. madurensis Lour., all those referred to it as a citrus. Lately it has been given the × Citrofortunella mitis by J. Ingram & H. E. Moore.
Calamondin is widely cultivated in the Philippines, there it is called: (Tagalog: kalamunding, calamansi or kalamansî [kɐlɐmɐnˈsɪʔ]; Visayan: limonsito or simuyaw [sɪˈmujɐw]), in Malaysia it is also known as limau kasturi and is growing also in the neighboring northern parts of Indonesia. It is available year-round in the Philippines and is usually seen in its unripened green state. When left to ripen it turns a tangerine orange.
The fruits are sometimes sour and are primarily used for cooking.
The Calamondin bears a small citrus fruit that is used to flavor foods and drinks. Despite its outer appearance and its aroma, the taste of the fruit itself is quite sour, although the peel is sweet. Eating a whole fruit has a surprise with the combination of sweet and sour. Calamondin marmalade can be made in the same way as orange marmalade. Like other citrus fruits, the calamondin is high in vitamin C.
The fruit can be frozen whole and used as ice cubes in beverages such as tea, soft drinks, water, and cocktails. The juice can be used in place of that of the common Persian lime (also called Bearss lime). The juice is extracted by crushing the whole fruit, and makes a flavorful drink similar to lemonade. A liqueur can be made from the whole fruits, in combination with vodka and sugar.
The fruit is used in local recipes in northern Indonesia, especially around the North Sulawesi region. Fish are spritzed with the juice prior to cooking to eliminate the "fishy" smell. Kuah asang ("sour soup") is a regional clear fish broth made with calamondin juice.
In Florida, the fruit is used in its fully ripe form with a more mature flavor profile than the unripe version. Tasters note elements of apricot, tangerine, lemon, pineapple and guava. The peel is so thin, each fruit must be hand snipped from the tree to avoid tearing. The entire fruit minus the stems and seeds can be used. It is hand processed and pureed or juiced and used in various products such as Calamondin cake, coulis and jam. The peels can be dehydrated and used as gourmet flavoring with salt and sugar. The fruit was popular with Floridian home bakers in cake form from the 1920s to 1950s. Once women joined the workforce, the labor-intensive nature of processing the fruit caused its diminished use. Now that commercially made products and fruit are available, it is experiencing a resurgence.
Floridians who have a Calamondin in the yard often use the juice in a summer variation of lemonade or limeade, as mentioned above, and, left a bit sour, it cuts thirst with the distinctive calamondin flavor. Also it can be used on fish and seafood, or wherever any other sour citrus would be used.
Calamondin has several alternative medicinal uses. When rubbed on insect bites, the juice is said to relieve the itching and reduce the irritation. It can also be used as a natural acne medicine or taken orally as cough medicine (often mixed with green tea), and is a natural anti-inflammatory. For constipation the juice is warmed and diluted with water. It bleaches freckles and helps to clear up acne vulgaris and pruritus vulvae. In Malaysia, it is used as an antidote for poison, and a poultice of pandanus leaves mixed with salt and the juice of Calamondin can be used to treat abscesses. In Peninsular Malaysia, it is combined with pepper to help expel phlegm. It is also used in skin and hair care products.
The Calamodin or Calamansi has considerable amount of essential oils stored in the rind. The most common method of extraction is via steam distillation, cold-press method and centrifugal extraction. The calamansi essential oil is used to alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety, and is widely used as a substitute to lemon or lime essential oil.
Calamondin × Citrofortunella microcarpa is a shrub or small tree growing to Script error: No such module "convert".. The plant is characterized by wing-like appendages on the leaf stalks and white or purplish flowers. The fruit of the calamondin resembles a small, round lime, usually 25-35mm in diameter, but sometimes up to 45mm. The center pulp and juice is the orange color of a tangerine with a very thin orange peel when ripe. Each fruit contains 8 to 12 seeds.
Some say that the plant is native to China and is one of the most cold hardy citrus. Its cultivation has spread throughout Southeast Asia, India, Hawaii, the West Indies, and Central and North America.
In North America, ×Citrofortunella microcarpa is grown primarily as an ornamental plant in gardens, and in pots and container gardens on terraces and patios. The plant is especially attractive when the fruits are present.
The plant is frost sensitive and therefore limited outdoors to frost-free climates (such as Florida, coastal California, south Texas, and Hawaii in the United States). Potted plants are brought into a greenhouse, conservatory, or indoors as a houseplant during the winter periods in regions with cooler climates.
However in its native homeland in Southeast Asia, the calamondin is easy to cultivate. The plant grows well in cool and elevated areas and in sandy soils rich in organic matter. Waterlogged areas are not suitable for cultivation because calamansi plants cannot tolerate too much moisture. Calamondin can be propagated by seeds using its vegetative parts. To produce big, luscious fruits, applying fertilizer, such as ammonium sulfate or urea, around each tree one month after planting is essential. The trees will start to bear fruit one or two years after planting. Trees have an average life span of five years.
Florida natives, however, report growing Calamondin trees with life spans in excess of 20 years in some cases, throughout 1950 to the 70's, and throughout the 70's to 90's. So the actual lifespan is an open issue and may depend on climatic factors, whether the plant is potted or free grown as a citrus yard tree.
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- Morton, J. 1987. Calamondin. p. 176–78. In: Morton, J. Fruits of Warm Climates. Miami, Florida.
- Mabberley, D.J. 1987. The Plant Book. A Portable Dictionary of the Higher Plants. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 706 pp. ISBN 0-521-34060-8.
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- NPGS/GRIN information: X Citrofortunella mitis
- Oliodigest: Calamondin, the Miniature Orange
- Calamondin – The Most Versatile Fruit at Aggie Horticulture.
- Calamansi Essential Oil