One of the other most popular fruits is none other than the citrus fruit, calamansi. It can be found in fruit juices, and as a garnish for other well-known meals in Filipino cuisine. Calamansi is a small fruit, round, green, and tart. But don’t make the mistake of thinking its size equals its flavor. Even just a quick squeeze of the fruit over your favorite food is bound to pack a flavorful punch!
Because it is just the right combination of sour and sweet, calamansi works as the perfect balancing agent. The fruit is able to cut through rich flavors that we find so often in Filipino dishes. Its bright, refreshing taste can make a lot of heavy dishes like pancit and lugaw feel a lot lighter. Plus, one always feels after a nice, cold glass of calamansi juice after a hot day!
The Philippines is home to a variety of fruits and vegetables that grow best in our country. Most domestic fruits and veggies come at pretty cheap prices in the market and make for excellent meals. What other nation can boast the sweetest, most delicious mangoes?
But our small but feisty calamansi deserves just as much recognition as any other of our favorite Filipino fruits. It has so many different roles and uses, not even limited to just food (but we’ll talk more about that later). So, let’s give it center stage now and learn more about this magic fruit!
What’s in a name (Calamansi)?
In some American states, this small green fruit is referred to as calamondin. In other parts of the world, calamansi is also known as the following, among others:
- Philippine lime
- Golden lime
- Philippine lemon
- Pamana orange
Fun fact: Pamana orange is also a common name people call kumquats. Calamansi is actually a kumquat hybrid, so this makes sense.
Other Southeast Asian countries like Malaysia and Singapore call it calamansi lime. It also plays a huge role in their cuisines; sambals and laksas are no stranger to this small and sour fruit. Calamansi also partners with some Malaysian grilled fish dishes, giving it a bright, refreshing taste!
Growing and glowing
One can find calamansi at any Filipino fresh market during the warm and dry seasons, and at affordable prices, too. Abroad, the Philippines’ calamansi juice export is over 160,000 metric tons per year. If you’re abroad looking for the fruit in markets or groceries, try looking for its other names, too, like calamondin.
But if you want to try growing your own, that’s not a problem, either! Easy to take care of and look after, calamansi trees thrive in Southeast Asian warm and tropical climates. They can grow up to 25 feet in maturity, bearing not only delicious fruit but beautiful white flowers. But be patient––growing your own food can take time!
Calamansi grows best in soil that’s dry and doesn’t soak up moisture for too long. Sunlight is also a huge factor in growing this fruit , as the trees thrive under hot weather; this is why it might be a little difficult for it to grow in temperate climates. When watering your seeds, it’s crucial not to overwater –– keep the soil damp, not moist. From the stress of being under the hot sun, flowers are more likely to bloom.
A delicious variety
Calamansi is such a versatile ingredient, used across so many Southeast Asian cuisines. While its tartness is similar to other citruses, it’s the calamansi that has become a staple in Filipino food.
One of the most popular calamansi recipes is undoubtedly the sweet and refreshing calamansi juice. It is a lot like lemonade, but with a complex taste, similar to a mixture of lemon and lime. Served often with honey and sugar (and sometimes even ginger), calamansi juice can be served both hot and cold. However, the latter is always a refreshing treat during the summertime. Another option would be to take the juice and freeze it, using the ice cubes in water and tea. For those of legal drinking age, you can even make a liqueur with a combination of calamansi, sugar, and vodka.
A lot of Filipino dishes lean more towards a sour palate –– think sinigang and cansi. Although already sour, some still enjoy these meals with a mixture of calamansi and fish sauce. More often than not, we use calamansi as a garnish for dishes like:
Its tangy taste adds an exciting zing for our taste buds. This makes it the perfect finishing touch to a lot of dishes.
You have probably heard the term “pampaalis lansa” in the kitchen. This is exactly another thing that calamansi is good for! For fish dishes, calamansi is often a part of the marinade or the dipping sauce that accompanies the main course. This helps not only give complex flavors to a dish but also reduces its fishy taste ( lansa ).
The combination toyomansi (that is, soy sauce “toyo” and calamansi ) is one that has become so popular in our cuisine. In fact, it’s so popular that instant noodle brands have named noodle flavors after it! If you’re a fan of food like lumpia and siomai , toyomansi makes for the best companion. You can even put some chili oil if you’re into a little spice!
Are you in the mood for something sweet instead of savory? With calamansi, that isn’t a problem either! Just like there are lemon-flavored desserts, calamansi bars, tarts, and cupcakes make that perfect mix of both sweet and sour. If you can’t find them at bakeries near you, there are several calamansi dessert recipes to follow online for a happy tummy.
Healthy and happy
Even with its small size, calamansi has a wide array of vitamins and nutrients that come with consuming it.
Like all citrus fruits, calamansi is rich in vitamin C. Vitamin C helps boost your immunity, protects your memory, and lowers your risk of getting several different illnesses. Studies have also shown that this fruit helps regulate the release of glucose and insulin into the body –– perfect for diabetics. Other vitamins and nutrients calamansi is rich in are vitamin A, potassium, and calcium.
Even with its sour taste and high levels of citric acid, calamansi actually helps soothe stomach pains and eases digestion. The fruit can help prevent acid reflux, which one can get from consuming too many ingredients high in acidic levels. Calamansi juice also boosts your metabolism, which can help if you’re looking to lose weight.
But did you know that calamansi is useful even beyond its delicious taste? People have begun to incorporate calamansi and its extract in other aspects of life … like beauty and skincare! Because calamansi is rich in vitamin C, it also aids in preventing signs of aging to appear. Wrinkles, age lines, and dry skin recover naturally as long as you have enough vitamin C in your system. It is also effective in fighting dandruff and itchy scalps –– because of its acidic nature, it even helps battle hair fall.
You may also want to see this article about the health benefits of lime.
Many have taken to using calamansi juice as a means of making skin fairer and more refined. Calamansi acts as a light bleach for the skin, without the awful burning sensation. It also works as a wonderful exfoliant; its juice can wash away dead skin cells, bringing out the new for a healthier and more glowing, rejuvenated appearance. By reducing oil production on your face, it helps put problems like acne, freckles, and blackheads to rest. Not only does your skin absorb all these helpful vitamins and nutrients, but you also look absolutely glowing!
Calamansi is a versatile fruit that makes our lives –– both in the kitchen and otherwise –– that much sweeter. With all its uses, calamansi can help you live a happier, healthier life. It really is evidence that the best things can sometimes come in the smallest packages.
How do you like to incorporate calamansi into your daily life? Let us know!