Calamansi (kalamansi) is a prized citrus fruit native to the Philippines. This local gem has gained global recognition for its distinct tartness and subtle sweetness. Let's discover what makes this fruit an indispensable part of the Filipino kitchen.
What is calamansi?
Calamansi, scientifically known as Citrus × microcarpa, is a small citrus fruit. It's known as kalamansi in Filipino and has other names like calamondin, lemonsito, Philippine lime, and Philippine lemon.
Often used green and unripe, it turns yellow-orange as it matures. The inside is orange, much like a tangerine, and its unique flavor is unmatched. It is often seen as a hybrid between a kumquat and a mandarin orange.
What does calamansi taste like?
Calamansi has a distinctly sour flavor with a subtle sweetness, like a blend of lime and sour mandarin orange. The refreshing juice is used in beverages, marinades, and desserts. The flavor is intense, so even though the fruit is small, a little calamansi juice can go a long way.
Is calamansi healthy?
According to US Citrus, calamansi, like other citrus fruits such as lemons and oranges, is a nutritional powerhouse in a small package, offering these benefits:
- Cholesterol Reduction: Contains pectin, a fiber that reduces harmful low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the bloodstream.
- Immunity Boost: High in vitamin C, aiding immune system function.
- Weight Management: Promotes better digestion and potentially aids in weight loss.
- Body Odor Neutralizer: Its antibacterial properties can reduce body odor.
- Diabetes Prevention: Might stabilize blood sugar and regulate insulin.
- Energy Booster: Can combat fatigue, especially when paired with honey.
- Antioxidant-rich: Helps counter harmful free radicals in the body.
Consume moderately as part of a balanced diet. For specific concerns or health conditions, always consult a healthcare professional.
How to buy and store calamansi
Choose calamansi that are vibrant in color and firm to the touch. They should feel heavy for their size, which indicates juiciness.
Natural bumps on the skin are normal; these are oil glands typical for calamansi. The fruit starts green and turns yellow-orange as it matures, becoming less tart.
Like other citrus fruits, they don't ripen further after being harvested. If you plan to use calamansi within a few days, store them on the countertop away from direct sunlight.
Keep them in the crisper drawer in your refrigerator to extend their freshness. Turn them occasionally for proper air circulation, preventing molds and spoilage. You can squeeze the juice and freeze it for future use.
In places where calamansi isn't readily available, concentrates serve as a handy alternative, though they might not capture the vibrant taste of fresh fruit completely.
Filipino recipes with calamansi
Calamansi has a unique tartness that brightens up meals. Check out these recipes to see how we love using this citrus fruit:
- Calamansi Juice: A tangy, refreshing beverage like lemonade, made by mixing calamansi with water and sugar or honey.
- Noodles: Calamansi is often squeezed over or served alongside noodle dishes, such as Pancit Canton, Pancit Bihon, Pancit Palabok, and Pancit Malabon.
- Arroz Caldo: A comforting rice porridge with chicken, ginger, and a squeeze of calamansi just before serving.
- Calamansi Muffins: Inspired by the muffins from a famous Boracay bakery, these are like lemon muffins but with a calamansi twist.
- Sinigang: A sour soup with pork, shrimp, or fish, and calamansi as an option for the souring agent.
- Bistek: A savory beef steak marinated and simmered in soy sauce and calamansi, and served with caramelized onions.
- Barbecue Marinades and Glazes: Calamansi imparts a unique tangy flavor and its acidity helps tenderize the meat in dishes like Pork Barbecue Skewers, Inihaw na Liempo, Chicken Inasal, and Grilled Tuna Belly.
- Sawsawan (Dipping Sauces): Calamansi is often halved and served alongside soy sauce, chili garlic oil, fish sauce, vinegar, and chilies.
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