A calamondin (cal-a-mon-din) is a small citrus hybrid grown as both an ornamental splash of color and an edible treat. Each plant has deep green, oblong leaves and white, sometimes dusky purple flowers that transform into the smooth kumquat-like calamondin fruit.
Calamondins, which are also referred to as acid oranges or golden limes, are thought to have originated in China. Nowadays they are most commonly cultivated in the Philippines and throughout Southeast Asia where the fruit is used to season soups, sauces, seafood dishes, and a variety of other foods. Calamondins reached Florida in the early twentieth century, flourishing along the Gulf coast and southern United States. Due to their unique fruity flavor, calamondins have seen been used in lemonades, marmalades, and cakes as well as sliced into wedges and served raw with tea.
The calamondin fruit is similar in shape to tangerines, reaching only about an inch in diameter or roughly the size of a small lime. They have thin rinds that deepen from a yellow-orange to a more carrot-colored hue depending on their maturity. When picking ripe calamondins, it is best to snip the fruit from the tree as to avoid tearing the branch or skin of the calamondin.
To cook with a calamondin (unless otherwise specified), choose a firmer fruit as it will continue to ripen off the vine and yield more aromatic and flavorful flesh. Modern recipes utilize the calamondin’s vivid zestiness to amplify everything from cocktails to citrus-centric desserts.
Throughout the year, calamondins will experience several flushes or periods of new growth. The plants self-pollinate and require neither mates nor encouragement to produce fruit. Simply water when dry and keep your calamondin in bright sunlight. Whether potted or planted, it will blossom and bear year-round with little tending, all the while perfuming the air with a sweet smell.