Vegetation Profile: Kalamansi

Calamondin or Kalamansi (Tagalog: kalamansî) is a fruit tree in the family Rutaceae and a member of citrofortunella that was developed in and is very popular throughout Southeast Asia, especially the Philippines, where it is most commonly used for cooking.

The fruit of the calamondin resembles a small, round lime, usually 25-35mm in diameter, but sometimes up to 45mm. It has the inviting odor of a tangerine with a very thin green or orange colored peel. In spite of its appearance and aroma, the taste of the fruit itself is quite sour, though the peel is sweet. Kalamansî is commonly used as a condiment for dishes such as pancit bihon. Like other citrus fruits, the calamansi is high in vitamin C, and the juice can be a good vitamin source.

It’s impossible to delve into Pinoy cuisine without first introducing kalamansi. We found a little condiment dish filled with these sour orbs at every restaurant we visited during our week-long tour of Manila and Palawan.

Whereas the Vietnamese like to dip their chicken and seafood in a mixture of salt, black pepper and lime juice, the Filipinos favor a sauce of kalamansi juice, fresh chilies, soy sauce and white vinegar.

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12 Responses to “Vegetation Profile: Kalamansi”


  • Along with green mangoes, I miss calamansi the most.

    Or. . .kalamansi with patis (fish sauce). The perfect dipping sauce for grilled fish.

  • they do look like limes don’t they? I keep hearing about them but don’t think I’ve ever tasted one.

  • JS – I saw some grilled fish at a farmers market but didn’t partake :-( What other dishes use Patis?

    Foodhoe – VERY lime-like. Maybe a bit more sour.

  • Hi, longtime lurker here. In Hanoi we ate an herb omelet that was served with a saucer of black pepper and salt and half a kalamansi. And they’re in Saigon markets … so are folks using them for juice only?

  • Hello Robyn – appreciate your delurking ;-) I think the Vietnamese only use kalamansi for juice, but not positive. There’s a possibility that they also use ‘em for “candies” like these: http://gastronomyblog.com/category/vietnamese/candy/

  • I wrote a story about Filipino cuisine last year, and fell in love with the spritely taste of kalamansi. I’ve heard of a couple people who have actually grown them in their yards in California. I was wondering if you knew whether they were difficult to grow?

  • I have a kalamansi tree in my yard in northern california. The tree is doing GREAT! My dad also has one growing in southern california that gives him more fruit than mine ever has. I use mine mostly for kinilaw which is filipino style ceviche and for marinating. Mixing sugar, kalamansi and soy to marinate any meat always turns out great.

  • Kalamansi trees grow really well in sunny climates. My parents have their own tree in Texas that produces tons of kalamansi. If you have lots of free time and kalamansi, squeeze yourself some juice; it’s so delicious cold and sweet. I usually use this fruit as a lime/lemon substitute. Also, for a delicious dip for chicken, mix kalamansi, soy sauce, vinegar, and hot sauce.

  • Kalamansi-ade is so good, and the rind isn’t bitter so you can leave the squeezed fruit in your drink. I also love to squeeze kalamansi into my Coke!

  • I’m so happy to see this post! I just bought a Kalamansi tree (posted about it too) at the farmer’s market a few days ago and was completely lost as to what to use the fruit for. The guy selling them labeled them wrong and it took me a good couple hours searching to even find out what they were called. After trying one I was intrigued by the hint of intense sweetness right at the end after the pucker power. It’s bearing lots of fruit so I’m excited to get to try it out as a marinade.

    Thanks for all the info!

  • to Teresa Fernan,

    It seems like there are the orange calamondin and then the green Filipino (Asian) kalamansi. Scientists say they are the same and attribute the difference in color and taste in where they were grown.

    Is yours the green Filipino kind? Have you tried growing from saplings?
    Been looking for one and now even Seafood City does not have any.

    Thanks,

    Bubuwit

  • I have a calamonin (kalamansi) tree in my backyard in the bay area. I absolutely love it. One simple pleasure is to squeeze one into a can of diet coke — truly a match. Also, I made a marmalade out of last year’s crop. It was absolutely incredible. For breakfast I would spoon a dollop of the marmalade onto some plain yogurt — yum. Or, pair the the marmalade with a pork pate, smoked manchego, or other charcuterie. Incredible stuff!

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