Friday, July 25, 2008

Kalamansi Tree



Isn't he pretty? I'm going to have to give him a name. Although that might make picking the fruit a little awkward. I am a married woman after all...

Weirdness aside, I'm so stoked to have finally gotten my very own citrus tree! It's a dream come true. My first thought when Husband said we were moving to California was, "Sweet! I get my own lemon tree!" Okay, well maybe it wasn't my first thought, but it was definitely a prevalent one.

I was tooling along at the farmer's market looking for some tasty treats when I stumbled upon this pretty fella. I'd been planning on buying another Pichara (Money Tree) but had a total change of heart when I saw this guy. And he was only $13. So cheap he should be ashamed of himself. I absolutely had to have one of course, if only I knew what the hell it was. The little sign said "Clemantsi Lemons". I assumed of course that was the case, why should I think any different? I'd simply search out information on the internet when I got home. Thinking I was being a responsible new parent to this beautiful tree I asked the guy a couple questions about re-potting and fertilizing and happily carted my purchase home.



When I arrived home I googled 'Clemantsi Lemon' and what did I find? Zilch. Nada. Not a single return. It's Google! How can the greatest search engine super power in the universe not have a single listing on my tree? Sacrilege! Blasphemy! Crap. What does a Seattle native know about growing citrus? Even less than what Google returned. Seriously. After about two hours of searching every damn citrus page hosted in this hemisphere I finally discovered this baby is called a Calamondin or Kalamansi. Yeah, that doesn't really mean a whole lot to me either. I guess they're popular in South East Asia, especially the Philippines. They were introduced to Florida by some dude in the late 1800's from Panama and are called an 'acid orange' or 'Panama Orange.' Very cool though, they are one of the only citrus plants that has the ability to grow, flower, and fruit at the same time. And they'll bear fruit all year round, unlike most other citrus.



At first after finding out this information I was a little disappointed. I had wanted a lemon tree after all, not some stupid sour orange. But it was really pretty. And it is a citrus tree. And didn't God say on the 9th day that all citrus are created relatively equal? (No? oh...my bad) But, I suppose we'll taste and see...

After tasting one I can definitely see the appeal. I peeled it, and it's like a tangerine, a very thin skin. It segments similarly too. On first taste you get the acid full force, some serious pucker power. But then, on the end of it, there's an intense sweetness. It's quite amazing actually. I also read somewhere that the peel is sweet, like a kumquat. I'm going to have to try one out peel and all tomorrow.



One site said they're great for making Key Lime Pie. Husband is very interested in that idea....

10 comments:

[eatingclub] vancouver || js said...

I would LOVE to have a calamansi tree! Calamansi is indispensable to Filipino cooking (although we can get by with lemon), but we don't use it as much in Vancouver because it's not always available, and when it is, they're very expensive.

Sweet Bird said...

If I could I'd ship ya one, they grow great indoors apparently. Actually, I guess they grow extremely well from seeds. Let me know if you want some and I'll pass 'em along.

trish said...

we have this in our backyard & you could make fresh juice out of it as well! just add white or brown sugar or both, ice & water to the freshly squeezed juice & tada! you got yourself a kalamansi juice!

Jude said...

I'm jealous that you can find this at your farmer's market. We're not so lucky here in Chicago.
We used to have this by the basketful in the Philippines and always seemed to get squeezed on everything.

Sweet Bird said...

trish - I'm definitely going to have to try that out. I ga-ga for minted lemonade, so maybe...

jude - I'm thinking I'm going to have to try out some traditional Filipino food to really get the full effect of this fruit. Any advice on where to start?

weyn said...

Kalamansi is actually great for dipping sauces like soy sauce and fish sauce, which we normally have here in the Philippines.

The green, unripe ones are used most often. In fact, other than the old kalamansi in our fridge, yours are the first ones I've seen orange! :)

You're lucky to have a tree, really. I'd love one but the soil in our backyard doesn't really help well.

Anonymous said...

WOW. You have no idea how much I’ve been longing for a calamansi tree. though my the soil in my backyard won’t be able to support the plant, I figured I would just leave it in the pot or create a raised plant bed to place my plants in. so a message to weyn, you don’t have to use the soil in your backyard if it isn’t fertile, you can always find another way to make sure your plants get the nutrients they need.

Sweet Bird, did you say you purchased your tree from a farmers market? Which one? I hope to get my own because though you can buy these trees from the store, they don’t look like they have been cared for because they don't fruit or flower. They are also extremely expensive ($35) so be glad to get that tree for $13.

If you’re asking for filipino foods to use calamansi in, they could be used in marinades for meats, or sauces such as the one provided by weyn. If you wanted to freshen fish for example you can squirt a little bit of calamansi and fry the fish. It kills a lot of the smell off the fish.

Sweet Bird said...

weyn - Thanks for the tips! I'm definitely going to have to try it out in a marinade. And, I guess now I don't have to wait for them to get ripe!

anon- I feel pretty lucky just to have a citrus tree, I had no idea calamansi were so highly sought after. I picked mine up at farmer's market in Monterey, CA. They're grown by a farm out of Salinas I think. Good luck finding one of your own, they're tasty!

jacq~* said...

Hello there! I stumbled across your site. I had to stop because I don't think I've EVER seen orange kalamansi in my life. And I've never thought of the green kalamansi as the unripe version; I just thought it came like that... The description you gave of the taste, was it about the ripe kalamansi?

Meat like pork or beef can be cooked "Filipino style". Marinade the beef in kalamansi, soy sauce and garlic. It's delicious! You can also use it to spruce up pancit (filipino style noodles) if you ever get the chance to try to make it.

My favorite application of calamansi HAS to be juice though. Regarding what trish said about juice, you could use honey instead of sugar. Gives it a different type of sweetness. The only thing is that you have to use a heck of a lot of kalamansi to make a nice big icy pitcher of it (you'll probably want to especially in this summer heat). It's also good as a hot drink, but I personally prefer it icy cold.

Jennifer said...

i know this is an old post, but i was looking for a place where i can get a kalamansi tree because i think they're pretty and i miss having kalamansi juice! anyway, be glad you found one in a farmer's market for that cheap. i'm a seattleite as well and i can't find this tree anywhere around here!