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What is Calamondin?

What is Calamondin

What is Calamondin?

Calamondins were introduced to Florida in the early 1900s and became popular as a backyard tree.  They yield a VERY tart fruit that is smaller than a golf ball.  What makes calamondin unique is its thin peel that is actually sweeter than the juice.  Women used the fruit to make jam and glazed cakes.  In the 50s, when women entered the workforce in droves, there were fewer people baking and making jams so calamondin’s popularity declined.

Why You Haven’t Heard of Calamondin

Since the peel is so thin, it tears if the ripe fruit is plucked from the tree.  This torn fruit can not be properly cleaned and can not be used.  So, each fruit is hand-snipped from the tree.  To process the fruit, there are 8-12 seeds that must be removed.  The hard work involved in picking and processing has made calamondin less desirable to commercialize than other citrus fruits.

Can You Buy Fresh Calamondin Fruit Outside of Florida?

Laurie Gutstein of Calamondin Cafe has made it her mission to popularize calamondin and to spread the word about this special fruit.  To her credit, she is extremely concerned about quality.  Laurie shared with me that the USDA requires EVERY piece of citrus that leaves the state of Florida to be dipped in one of three fungicides – even organic citrus  (I had no idea!).  Because use of the peel is such an integral part of calamondin, Laurie says, “I cannot in good conscience use the almost organic growing practices we use and then dip that fruit. If the ban is lifted or modified, I will be shipping fresh fruit!”  So, for now the fresh fruit is only available within Florida.

How Can You Taste Calamondin?

Since Calamondin Cafe can’t ship the fresh fruit outside of Florida, they have products made with calamondin that you can and should try to get a taste of calamondin:

  • Calamondin coulis is a fruit puree that can be used as a calamondin concentrate in recipes.  Soon, I’ll be sharing my calamondin cupcake recipe which uses the coulis in the cupcake batter and the frosting.  The coulis is also incredible over yogurt, granola, or on baked brie.
  • Calamondin jam can be used as a cupcake filling or simply spread on some toast.
  • Just Tops are calamondin’s answer to candied orange peel. They are adorable sweet and tart little discs made from candied calamondin tops that are perfect cupcake toppers.
  • Calamondin tea cake arrives to your house just as fresh as if you’d baked it yourself.  Although I always advocate for homemade desserts, the advantage of buying a calamondin cake is that the cake is made with fresh calamondin – which as I mentioned above, you can’t purchase outside of Florida.  Although my cupcakes with the coulis have a strong calamondin flavor, the tea cakes that I received from Calamondin Cafe had an intensity that I could not achieve without access to the calamondin juice.

In my next post, I’ll share the recipe for my calamondin cupcakes!

Note: This was a sponsored post by Calamondin Cafe and the photos in the collage were all provided by them.  But, all of the opinions shared in this post are from my own experience with their products.

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12 comments on “What is Calamondin?”

  1. Catsays:

    Very interesting! Put that on my list of things to see/do if I ever get to Florida. The description of the fruit (tart inside, sweet skin) sounds a lot like kumquats, which are even available in our (relatively) small, rural-ish town. Would be neat to taste the difference.

    • Stefanisays:

      Sorry to disappoint you, but calamondins are nothing like kumquats. My calamondin tree died after about 30 years, but my kumquat tree still bears fruit. Have you ever tried loquats? Trees are easy to grow and will grow to about 25 feet, if you can get the fruit before the birds, and they are ripe, they are quite sweet. Good luck.

  2. A former coworker of mine introduced these to me and they are definitely sour! He eats them whole, peel and all. I think he has a tree in his backyard bc we live in Houston and he would bring them in often. Cool post, can’t wait to see the cupcakes!

  3. lisasays:

    I had a calamondin tree in the front yard growing up. My grandma and mom would make “orange” cake with them. One of my favorite memories!! Thank you – this blog made my day!!

  4. Well I just so happen to be in FL right now for work!!! I’m going to look up where I can get some this instant, because now I have to try it!

  5. Laurasays:

    Not accurate about them only being available in Florida. I’ve purchased them semi regularly here in California.

  6. Suesays:

    My beloved Aunt Dorothy and her husband Fritz travelled each year to the Keys. As a gift, she gave me a freezer container of crushed calamondins . She also made jam with them, but she told me to take the about 1/4 C of the frozen crushed calamondins and after thawing, put it in an Angel Food cake mix. I reduced the amount of water in the recipe by a little more than 1/8th cup to compensate for the oranges.
    After the cake was cool, I’d take some of the frozen calamondins and add it to a powdered sugar glaze.
    We have never been able to create the awesome taste of that cake with any other fruit, including kumquats.

    Strawberries are just OK, and regular oranges are one step up from the strawberries, but the tartness of the calamondins cuts the sweetness of the angel food cake perfectly. After my uncle died, she never went back to Florida, but I knew that she’d gotten the oranges from a neighbor who had a tree. For at least 10 years we asked everyone who went to Florida or lived in Florida to look for calamondins oranges and they always came back without calamondins and said that no one had even heard of them at the stores there.

    We went to Kauai and while there visited the National Tropical Botanical Garden. One of the gardens in Florida had recently been added to the NTBG. We were fortunate to have a horticulturist who had exceptional knowledge of the plants in the gardens. He came to a tree and asked us to stop to taste the oranges. He explained that it had been brought over from Florida and when he told us the name, I nearly passed out! We saved lots of seeds, but nothing grew. I had never seen a picture of the tree on the web because I was spelling it incorrectly. Now I know that I can order one, and after looking at pictures I realized that it is the same miniature orange tree my Mom had at home many years ago. We’d been told that the oranges were inedible, but now I just know that by themselves, they taste terrible, but can be amazing in cooking. Thanks for all the information. Now I am going t order myself a tree! Oh,
    one other thing, if you don’t mind alcohol in cooking, some Grand Marnier in the cake is good along with the calamondins.

    • Stefsays:

      Thanks for the lovely story!! I’m so glad that your quest had a happy ending. Good luck with your tree! And, thanks for the tip about the Grand Marnier!

  7. Mother Hensays:

    I live in Southern California and purchased a kumquat tree at a store called Lowe’s . Actually wanted to them but wasn’t available but right next to it was a tree with a similar picture called the Calamondin . So if you live in Southern California or any southern state that has a Lowe’s store you might be able to purchase a tree for yourself

  8. Michelle friendsays:

    I live in Southern California and was able to purchase a dwarf Calamondin tree at Lowe’s . It is doing wonderfully and produces a lot of fruit

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