Calamondin aka Calamansi

Calamondin aka Calamansi

They’re called Calamondin here in the US. And the plants are not easy to find, even in Florida. We had to go to a nursery. And it wasn’t cheap.

I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t try to grow a calamansi from seed. In fact, I nurtured one, from seed, for years. We hauled it to Texas and back to Orlando when we relocated. When it still did not bear fruit after three years, we gave it to the landscaping guys. Then we went to the nursery to buy a five-year-old tree that was already flowering.

We planted the calamansi in our front yard –  on Earth Day, 2008. We water and fertilize it regularly and wrap it in a blanket during cold snaps. We’ve had three bountiful harvests since we took it home.

Unlike in the Philippines where our calamansi would bear fruit year-round, this calamondin flower only in January and July, leading to harvests in June and November. In between, we’ve had to freeze some fruits to tide us over to the next harvest season.

I discovered that although green (unripe) and yellow (ripe) calamansi both keep well in the refrigerator for weeks, they keep better inside ziplock baggies in the crisper section that has low humidity. I keep them in small batches in quart-size bags. Outside bags, they dry up quickly.

I also discovered that you can store calamansi for months by freezing, but you should freeze only the green ones. Why? Because when frozen calamansi thaw out, they become soft and mushy. The green ones retain their integrity better than the ripe ones. When you slice and squeeze the ripe ones, the skins break and the pulp segments slide off. The green ones hold their shapes, thus remain squeeze-able. (Oh, to quickly thaw an ice solid calamansi, I microwave it on high for half a minute.)

So, essentially, calamansi is best when they’re green – firm, juicy, and super sour! No wonder I hardly see ripe ones in the Philippines.

By the way, here’s an article I wrote some time ago for eHow.com: What is a Calamondin?

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