Gardening Recipes

All about calamondin or calamansi fruit – with recipe roundup!

All about calamondin or calamansi fruit - with recipe roundup! thumbnail
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We’ve grown calamondins for over a decade. In this article, you’ll learn all about calamondin fruit (which go by many names), including how to grow, propagate, and use them in foods and beverages! 


I. Calamondin vs calamansi: same or different fruit? 

Citrus × microcarpa goes by many common names but it’s most often called “calamondin” or “calamansi”. In case you’ve heard both names, yes calamondins are the same fruit/plant as calamansis

If you’re wondering how to pronounce either name, they sound like they’re spelled: ka-la-mon-den and ka-la-mon-see. For the sake of this article, we’ll simply refer to them as calamondins. 

Pippa, one of our Welsh Harlequin ducks, admiring our ripening calamondin fruit at Christmas. Calamansi fruit

Pippa, one of our Welsh Harlequin ducks, admiring our ripening calamondin fruit at Christmas.

What are calamondin fruit?

Calamondins are a tart, intensely flavored citrus fruit from southeast Asia. The fruit is small – about 1.5-2″ in diameter, or about the size of a pingpong ball. 

Calamondins are thought to be a hybrid between kumquats and mandarin oranges. Like kumquats, you can eat calamondin fruit skin and all, but their flavor is much more intense and sour than kumquats.

Calamondins’ skin color changes from green to vibrant orange when ripe. The skin is sweet and the juicy pulp is sour but flavorful. The skin is very soft and tender – even more so than kumquat skin. 

Citrus × microcarpa: a fruit with many names

A little more about names to prevent confusion…

In the US, Citrus × microcarpa is usually called “calamondin.” This name is the Americanized version of the Tagalog word kalamunding. (Tagalog is the native language of many Filipinos and Indonesians, which is where calamondins originate.) 

In the Philippines, the fruits are typically called calamansi. 

Other common names for calamondins include:

  • acid orange
  • bitter-sweets
  • calamandarin
  • calamonding
  • calamondin orange
  • golden lime
  • musk orange
  • Panama orange
  • Philippine lemon
  • Philippine lime

Yes, common names can create confusion! In this case, scientific names have further muddied the identification waters since calamondins have been variously categorized as Citrus × microcarpa, Citrus mitis, and Citrofortunella microcarpa by different universities and plant guides.

II. Growing calamondin fruit in pots in cool or moderate climates

Calamondin trees grow very well in pots, especially if you select dwarf varieties. We grow about a dozen+ citrus varieties in pots on the outskirts of Greenville, SC (Zone 7b), including a dwarf calamondin tree.

Our 10 year old calamondin tree produces huge quantities of fruit each year. A well-cared for calamondin tree can live to be between 50-100 years old, so our hope is our son (currently a toddler) likes the fruit enough for it to be included in his inheritance!   

Calamondin or calamansi fruit harvest. One night's harvest off our calamondin tree. It's amazing how much fruit a single calamondin tree can produce.

One night’s harvest off of our potted calamondin tree. It’s amazing how much fruit a single calamondin tree can produce.

The fruit starts blushing orange around November, is fully orange-ripe by mid-January, and remains on the tree until around March, providing a nice long harvest window. (You can eat the fruit when still green or slightly orange, as detailed below.) 

Where can you buy calamondin trees? 

You can order standard or dwarf calamondin trees online from specialty citrus nurseries. Some of these nurseries also sell calamondin trees via Amazon.

Are calamondins cold-hardy?

While calamondin trees can tolerate temperatures down to the low-20s °F (-6°C), we bring ours into a heated garage any time temperatures dip below freezing to keep it as healthy and productive as possible. 

Can one calamondin tree produce fruit?

Do you have to get at least two calamondin trees to get fruit? No.

Another nice thing about calamondins is their flowers are self-fertile. This means you can have a single calamondin tree in bloom — with no other citrus plants in the vicinity — and still get fruit. The flowers still have to be pollinated by insects or by you (using a q-tip or small brush).

Can you grow calamondin trees indoors? 

Yes, you can grow calamondin trees indoors with three caveats:

  1. Calamondins thrive in full-sun so you’ll want a sunny, south-facing window and/or good grow lights. (We use these adjustable tripod grow lights for our indoor potted plants.) 
  2. Citrus plants grown indoors for long periods of time often experience pest insect problems from scales, spider mites, and aphids since there are no predatory insects around to hold their populations in check. 
  3. Calamondins will grow and perform better outside than inside, so only attempt to grow them indoors if you have to due to your climate. Or bring them outdoors as soon as you can during the warm months.  

Can you grow calamondins from seed? 

Calamondin seeds, calamansi seeds

Calamondin seeds.

Inside each calamondin fruit you’ll find several relatively large seeds, about the same size as lemon seeds. If you’re considering growing them in order to produce more calamondin trees, note that they may not come true to seed due to the fact that calamondins are hybrid plants. 

Calamondins are also relatively difficult to grow via cuttings.

Instead, the best way to make more calamondin trees is by air layering young branches while still on the tree. This video tutorial from Marcelina Noss does an excellent job of showing you how. 

Learn more about how to grow calamondins and other citrus in pots:

If you’d like to learn how to grow citrus (including dwarf calamondin trees) in pots, the following articles/videos will be very helpful:

III. Harvesting, storing, and eating calamondins

Calamondin flowers

The fruit isn’t the only culinary feature of calamondin trees…

Calamondin flowers are wonderfully fragrant and make an excellent tea as well. Use the same information in our article How to grow and make lemon blossom tea to make your own calamondin blossom tea. 

Calamondin trees will flower even when they're still bearing ripe fruit.

Calamondin trees will flower even when they’re still bearing ripe fruit.

Bees and other pollinators love calamondin nectar and pollen as well. We’ve seen everything from honeybees to bumblebees to butterflies to syrphid flies foraging our calamondin flowers.

Calamondin fruit harvesting tips  

In southeast Asia, calamondins are often harvested when the skin is still green (technically unripe) and used similarly to limes. They’re especially acidic/tart at this point. 

However, we prefer calamondin fruit when they’ve fully ripened to orange but are still firm to the touch. They’re still quite sour, but the overall flavor is better and sweeter at this point. Once the orange fruit turns soft, it’s overripe. 

No matter when you harvest calamondins (green, orange, or in between), it’s important that you do NOT pull them off the tree. If you do, a small chunk of skin will rip off with the stem and the fruit won’t store nearly as long. 

Instead, using pruners or kitchen scissors, cut calamondins off of the tree just above the stem attachment, leaving a small piece of stem attached to the harvested fruit. 

Harvest calamondin fruit by using pruners or kitchen scissors to cut just above the stem attachment. Do NOT pull calamondin fruit off of the plant or you'll tear off a chunk of skin causing the fruit to go bad much faster.

Harvest calamondin fruit by using pruners or kitchen scissors to cut just above the stem attachment. Do NOT pull calamondin fruit off of the plant or you’ll tear off a chunk of skin causing the fruit to go bad much faster.

Calamondin fruit storage tips  

Even if you properly harvest ripe calamondin fruit by leaving part of the stem attached, the fruit will not store for more than 3-5 days at room temperature. Longer than that, and it gets soft and develops off flavors.

However, if you immediately put freshly harvested calamondins in a ziplock bag in your fridge’s veggie drawer, it will last for at least 2 weeks. 

What’s the nutritional profile of calamondin fruit? 

According to Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, a single calamondin fruit contains:

  • 12 calories
  • 1.2 g fiber
  • 37 mg potassium
  • 7.3 mg vitamin C
  • 57.4 mg IU vitamin A
  • 8.4 mg calcium

In other words, calamondins are loaded with fiber and vitamins, as is all citrus. Keeping your calamondin trees healthy and well-fed with organic fertilizers, worm castings, compost, and other soil amendments will ensure that your calamondin fruits’ nutrition is at peak. 

How do you eat calamondin fruit? 

If you have a high tolerance for tart/sour flavors, you can eat calamondins straight off the tree, skin and all. As mentioned earlier, they’re similar to a kumquat but they have thinner, more tender skin and a more sour flavor. 

Calamondins are best made into foods and drinks such as:

  • calamondinade (a water-diluted sweetened beverage like lemonade);
  • mocktails or fortified beverages (they pair well with vodka);
  • made into a marinade for fish, poultry, and chicken (or juice applied after cooking);
  • baked/cooked into savory dishes;
  • sweets (cakes, pies, curds, jello, candy, etc).

Our favorite calamondin recipes 

Calamondin upside down ginger spice cake is our favorite calamondin recipe we've come up with to date. We'll continue to add more to the list each calamondin season!

Calamondin upside down ginger spice cake is our favorite calamondin recipe we’ve come up with to date. (Made with white whole wheat flour and fresh-grated ginger.) We’ll continue to add more recipes to the list each calamondin season!

Below is a list of our favorite calamondin fruit recipes (click to go to any recipe that interests you). As we come up with more recipes worth sharing, we’ll be sure to add them! 

  1. Calamondin ginger marmalade (yes, calamondins will make the best marmalade you’ll ever eat)
  2. Candied calamondins
  3. Napa cabbage salad with calamondins and Thai peanut butter citrus dressing
  4. One-pot kumquat or calamondin roasted chicken or turkey (substitute calamondins 1:1 for kumquats)
  5. Calamondin ginger upside down cake 

We’ll continue adding more calamondin recipes each year as we get ripe fruit! 

Even though calamondins certainly aren’t the best fresh-eating citrus, we think they have enormous culinary potential. Hopefully, this article answers every question you might have about how to grow, harvest, and use them in the kitchen.

Let us know if you have any questions in the comments below!  

KIGI,

Tyrantfarms

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