Tart, sweet, and surprising, calamansi are one of the underrated (or unknown) citrus.
Also known as calamondin or Philippine / Filipino lime, these little gems are a hybrid between the Mandarin orange and kumquat. They’re also delicious.
I was first introduced to calamansi in the Philippines. My mom grew up there, and for most of my childhood my grandparents lived in Manila. With our cut papaya or dishes like pancit, there would always be accompanying calamansi wedges to squeeze over for a bright hit of sour, like you would use a lime or lemon.
Then, when we moved into the house my parents have been in for the past 20+ years, lo and behold, there it was. A calamansi tree, laden with fruit, just hanging out in the backyard.
We also had a lemon tree and peach tree, and still had a lemonade stand growing up, selling our (arguably) over-sweetened juice for 25¢. But my favorite citrus-ade was, and is, made with calamansi.
A note about calamansi: in the Philippines, they tend to be greener skinned and have a lighter yellow/orange interior. Ours look truer to the Mandarin orange, but beware you don’t confuse them! Calamansi are deceptively, delightfully tart. Like, pucker your mouth, squeeze your eyes together sour.
I love a simple calamansi-ade, sweetened just enough with a little sugar and mixed with regular or sparkling water. It’s also great with a shot of rum, vodka, or lambanog – alcohol distilled from coconut. Mix, sip, and savor as you like!
Serves: 2 | Time: 5 minutes
- 4-6 calamansi, halved
- 1 T sugar
- Sparkling water
- Optional: 1 oz lambanog, rum, or vodka
Place a strainer over a measuring cup and squeeze calamansi over. They tend to be very seedy, so you’ll save yourself the pain of having to fish out the seeds from the juice. Add sugar to taste and stir to dissolve.
Fill two tumblers with ice and pour calamansi juice over. If making your concoction boozy, add your liquor of choice, and then top with sparkling water. Stir to combine.
I like making big batches of calamansi juice when I can. It’s incredibly bright and fresh and more often then not, I want more then just one glass. You can also store the juice (sweetened or unsweetened) for up to a week in the fridge and use as you like.
This can also be made with still water and enjoyed as a simple citrus-ade like I did as a kid. It’s no less delicious, and insanely easy.