Citrofortunella microcarpa, the calamondin or calamansi, is a fruit tree in the family Rutaceae in native Asia. Other English language common names include calamonding, calamandarin, golden lime, Philippine lime, Panama orange, Chinese orange, and acid orange. Its cultivation has spread throughout Southeast Asia, India, Hawaii, the West Indies, and Central and North America. The plant is characterized by wing-like appendages on the leaf stalks and white or purplish flowers. Its fruit has either a spongy or leathery rind with a juicy pulp that is divided into sections.
The fruit is indigenous and widely cultivated in the Philippines, Malaysia (Also known as limau kasturi) and 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 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 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. In Asian cuisines, the juice is used to season fish, fowl, and pork. It is commonly used as a condiment in Filipino dishes like pancit. Calamondin halves or quarters may be served with iced tea, seafood and meats, the acid juice is often employed like lime or lemon juice to make gelatin salads or desserts, custard pie or chiffon pie. In the Philippines, the extracted juice, with the addition of gum tragacanth as an emulsifier, is pasteurized and bottled commercially.
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.