Calamondin: The Tiny Tart Citrus Fruit

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Calamondin, a tiny citrus fruit, is a cross between a kumquat and a mandarin orange. It is sour and tangy, commonly used as a seasoning in Asian cuisines and to produce preserves such as marmalade.

What is a Calamondin?

Calamondin (Citrofortunella microcarpa), commonly referred to as Philippine lime or calamansi, is a citrus fruit with a diameter of around 3–4 cm (1-1.5 in). It is indigenous to the Philippines and  Southeast Asia but is also grown in other parts of the world, such as the USA (Florida).

The fruit has an orange-colored exterior and juicy, acidic flesh with a sweet citrus flavor.  Calamondin orange is somewhat flattened and resembles a small orange or tangerine. The fruit trees have evergreen leaves and can reach 20 to 25 feet.

Calamondin is used in Filipino and Southeast Asian cuisine as a garnish or flavoring ingredient for beverages, sauces, and marinades. The fruit is also renowned for its therapeutic qualities, notably its high vitamin C content.

The History of Calamondin

Calamondin fruit is ingenious to the Philippines. The kumquat and mandarin orange fruit hybrid is also grown in several other countries, including Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia.

Its distribution and consumption are significantly influenced by international trade. The fruit is exported worldwide, especially to the United States, where it is mostly used to make juice and as a seasoning for food.

Calamondin has a strong cultural importance in the Philippines, where it is used in traditional medicine, cuisine, and religious rituals. It is also a key component in adobo, the nation’s national dish, and is frequently used at festivals and other special occasions. The fruit is a common element in feng shui rituals since it is also said to bring luck and wealth.

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Because of their small size, calamondin trees are prized by avid home gardeners.

What Does a Calamondin Taste Like?

Calamondins have a tart and sour flavor profile with a hint of sweetness. When eaten raw, it is crisp and juicy but softens and loses part of its tartness when cooked.

How to Tell When Calamondin is Ripe

Here are some pointers to follow when looking for a ripe calamondin:

ColorA ripe Philippine lemon fruit is yellow-orange or bright orange. Fruit is not quite ripe if it is still green.
SizeThe mature fruit’s diameter is usually between 1 and 2 inches.
TextureFully mature fruit has a firm texture that is neither hard nor soft.
TasteWhen ripe, an edible fruit should taste tart, acidic, and a little bit sweet.
ScentA pleasant, lemony scent should emanate from ripe fruits.

Look for calamondin fruits that are weighty for their size, firm, and smooth-skinned. Avoid fruits with blemishes, soft patches, or excessively light since these might indicate over-ripeness or rotting. Additionally, choose calamondins that are bright orange, as these are ripe and ready for consumption.

Can I Eat Raw Calamondin?

Yes, you can eat raw calamondin. When consumed raw, calamondin can be utilized in various ways, including as a zesty garnish for drinks, a sour flavor for sauces or marinades, and as a snack all by itself or when combined with other fruits.

Cooking with Calamondin

The calamondin fruit is frequently utilized in Southeast Asian cuisines. It’s crucial to thoroughly prepare the fruit before incorporating it into recipes. The following are the procedures for preparing calamondin fruit:

  1. Thoroughly wash the fruit under running water.
  2. Chop it in half crosswise.
  3. Use a citrus juicer or your hands to squeeze the fruit’s juice.
  4. Get rid of any seeds from the juice.
  5. You can save the pulp for another use or discard it.
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Calamondin is essential within traditional Filipino Adobo, adding bright, citrusy flavors to the dish.

You can prepare various savory and sweet dishes with calamondin fruit. A few traditional foods made using calamondin fruit are listed below.

Chicken Adobo: This classic Filipino dish is made with chicken thighs, and drumsticks simmered in a mixture of soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, and calamansi juice. The result is a tangy, savory dish perfectly served over rice. 

Sinigang: This sour soup is a Filipino comfort food typically made with pork, seafood, and various vegetables. The soup gets its sour flavor from the calamansi juice and tamarind. 

Calamansi Bars: These sweet and tangy bars are similar to lemon bars but are made with calamansi juice. They are a popular dessert in the Philippines. 

Tom Yum Soup: This spicy and sour soup is a Thai classic made with galangal, shrimp, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, and calamondin juice. 

How to Store Calamondin

Here are some suggestions for storing calamondin:

CounterCalamondin can be kept on the counter for a week at room temperature. After a few days, however,  the fruit will begin to lose its texture and flavor.
FridgeCalamondin may be preserved for up to two weeks in the refrigerator by putting the fruit in a container or a  plastic bag and putting it in the crisper drawer.
FreezerCalamondin can be kept in the freezer for later usage. Slice the fruit in half and get rid of the seeds. Put the pieces in a freezer bag and freeze for six months. Frozen calamondin might be used in drinks and cooking, but the texture will feel softer compared to fresh calamondin.
DriedYou may also dry calamondin for later use. Slice the fruit thinly, then spread it out on a baking pan. The slices are then dried and gently crisped in a low- temperature oven (around 140°F). This way, the fruit can last for six months.

Nutritional Benefits of Calamondin

Calamondin fruit is rich in nutrients and antioxidants. Every 100-gram calamondin serving contains 8.2 grams of carbohydrates,  43 calories, 0.3 grams of fat, and 1.4 grams of protein. It is also a source of vitamin C that provides 47% of the daily recommended value.

The synthesis of collagen, healing of wounds, and preservation of an immune system all depend on vitamin C. It also functions as an antioxidant, protecting cells from harm by free radicals. 

Additionally, calamondin contains potassium, which supports nerve and muscle function and helps regulate blood pressure, and folate, which is necessary for strong cell growth and development.

Where to Purchase Calamondin

You can purchase Calamondin fruit from farmers’ markets,  online retailers, and specialty stores. They are often available year-round in the Philippines, but their peak season is from October to February.

You can also purchase calamondin tree seedlings from nurseries and garden centers for home cultivation.


Tabitha is a freelance writer with love for food and drinks. She loves gardening and is always looking for new ways to get more fresh produce. She also loves animals and has dairy goats, chicken, sheep, a dog, and a cat at her home.

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