Plant Spotlight: Calamondin
October 16, 2009
By Debbie Hughes, Estates Horticulturist
The calamondin is thought to be a cross between a mandarin (tangerine), and a kumquat thus the botanical name, x citrusfortunella microcarpa. Calamondins are quite small however when you bite into one of these little gems, your taste buds will perk up. The vitamin-C packed fruit is sour on the inside, but the peel is very sweet. Many people are not familiar with this mandarin relative, but they were imported from China and have been grown throughout Florida since the early 1900’s.
Once picked, the fruit doesn’t last longbut you can juice or freeze them for future enjoyment. When picking the fruit, use scissors or pruners leaving some stem on to increase the shelf life. Calamondin plants are sensitive to frost and grow best in warm climates. However, potted calamondins can be brought inside during the winter in colder climates.
Uses for Calamondin:
- Ice Cubes: Freeze the fruit whole on a cookie sheet. Once frozen, store several frozen fruit in a freezer bag and use as ice cubes in iced tea.
- Calamondinade: Stir in 1 cup of calamondin juice to 4-6 cups of water adding simple syrup to taste and a pitcher full of ice cubes for a refreshing drink.
- Calamondin Pie: Substitute juice of calamondin for key lime in your favorite key lime pie recipe.
- Calamondin Marmalade: Made the same way as orange marmalade.
There are several calamondin trees at the Edison and Ford Winter Estates adding to the repertoire of edible plants Mr. Edison grew on the property. The Estates Garden Shoppe has calamondin trees for sale along with many other types of citrus including grapefruit, kumquat, orange, lime, lemon, limequat, and kafir lime. You can purchase Estates fruits at the Downtown Fort Myers Farmers’ Market on Thursday mornings.
Click “More” to view Recipe for Calamondin Cake
Recipe for Calamondin Cake
- 1 package Duncan Hines classic yellow cake mix
- Package lemon Jell-O
- 1 cup milk
- 4 extra-large eggs
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons lemon extract
- 1 cup calamondin puree*, divided
- ½ cup canola oil
- 4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter
- Pinch salt
- 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
- ¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted
Step 1: Combine cake mix and Jell-O in a large bowl. Add milk. With an electric mixer on low speed, fold milk into dry ingredients. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Step 2: Place 1 tablespoon lemon extract, ½ cup calamondin puree, and canola oil in a small separate bowl and whisk until well blended. Add this calamondin mixture slowly to batter, beating constantly with an electric mixer. Grease and flour a bundt pan. Turn batter into bundt pan. (Greasing the bundt pan with Crisco is key to unmolding the cake.)
Step 3: Bake pan at 300ºF on middle rack for 55 to 60 minutes or until cake pulls away from sides of pan and a wooden skewer inserted in the cake comes out clean. Remove cake from oven and allow it to cool for only 5 minutes. Loosen edges with a knife. Turn cake out on serving platter and glaze while still hot.
Step 4: Meanwhile, as the cake is baking, prepare glaze. Place butter, ½ cup calamondin puree, salt, and 2 teaspoons lemon extract in a medium glass bowl or mixing cup. Microwave on high for 1 minute or until butter is melted and puree is hot. Mix well with spoon or whisk. Sift 2 cups confectioners’ sugar into calamondin mixture, stopping to mix sugar into puree about every ½ cup. Set aside
Step 5: Spoon glaze on top of warm bundt cake, allowing it to drizzle down sides of plate and onto serving platter. Cover all surfaces of cake with glaze. Place toasted almonds atop glazed cake. When cake is cool, sift 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar atop cake.
*To make calamondin puree: Wash fruit. Cut in half and remove seeds. Puree fruit (with peel) in blender or food processor. (Puree can be frozen until needed.)
Recipe Source: Victoria Shearer. The Florida Keys Cookbook: Recipes and Foodways of Paradise. (2006) Available at the Edison and Ford Winter Estates Museum Store.