Calamondin Ready for the Holidays
Citrus fruit is a staple in our household. We use them in cooking, decorating, gift giving, beverages, as aromatherapy, and simply eating. A new addition to our palate is Calamondin, a citrus plant originating in China and introduced to the United States as an “acid orange” in the 1900's. Hybrids between citrus subspecies have been cultivated for so long it is sometimes hard to know the species exact origins but it is believed by horticulturists that the Calamondin is a hybrid of lime and either mandarin or kumquat.
We purchased our tree two years ago. We keep it in a pot so that it can easily be moved to the right location. The plant is hardy up to 20 degrees F so it does need to be brought inside over winter and placed in a well lit area. Ours started fruiting just before our first hard frost hit and we brought it indoors and keep it in our potting room in front of a large window.
In the United States Calamondin is grown mostly as an ornamental as it makes a great patio plant but the juice can also be used as you would lemon or lime...in beverages, to flavor fish and meats, teas, cakes, preserves, pies and sauces. It is deliciously tart!
During warm months we place it outside in direct sunlight or half shade. It grows best in temperatures between 70 to 90 degrees F.
The tree can produce blooms year-round in the right environment and it can be blooming and have fruit at the same time. The blooms are incredibly fragrant. The fruit is green to start and as it matures it turns orange. The fruit is most abundant from November to June. The bees and butterflies love the nectar and fragrance of the blooms too!
The fruit also has some medicinal qualities. You can rub the juice on insect bites and it will stop the itching and irritation. The juice can be extracted and saved in ice cube trays covered with a plastic bag for later use. But for this year it looks like we will have ripe fruit for our holiday cheer!