Benefits Of: CALAMONDIN, CALAMANSI

Rutaceae (Citrus family)

Description. Small, slender evergreen tree 3-8 m (10-26 ft) tall. Simple leaves alternate, oval, 4-8 cm (1.6-3.2 in) long with winged petioles. Flowers white, very fragrant, 2.5 cm (1 in) wide, borne singly or in small groups in axils of leaves at tips of branches. Aromatic fruits 3-4.5 cm (1.2-1.8 in) in diameter with glossy, orange, very thin skin dotted with conspicuous oil glands. Pulp divided into 5-10 segments, very juicy, aromatic, and sour.

Origin and Distribution. The calamondin probably originated in southern China, from where it spread very early to Indonesia, the Philippines, and India. The tree is commonly grown as an ornamental and as a fruit tree throughout the tropics and subtropics. The calamondin, which is unknown in the wild, is believed to be a cross between the Mandarin orange (C. reticulata, p. 74) and the kum-quat (Fortunella spp., p. 109).

Food uses. The juice of the calamondin is used similar to lime juice in refreshing drinks and to season salad dressings and fish dishes. It is also used to flavor desserts, ice cream, and sweet pies. The juice can be frozen and used as ice cubes in iced tea or cocktails. calamondin juice is used as a natural tenderizer in beef and pork marinades.

The fruits, often mixed with kumquats, are used to make marmalade. In Malaysia, a chutney is prepared from calamondin fruits together with green mango, vegetables, and spices. In the Philippines, calamon-dins are very popular as a sour ingredient in a variety of fish, pork, and chicken dishes.

Comments. The frost-sensitive calamondin is known outside the tropics mainly as a potted indoor ornamental. The fruits are a good source of vitamin C. In Asia, calamondin juice is taken as a remedy for coughing and rubbed on the skin to relieve itching insect bites.

Description. Annual, herbaceous, creeping vine with curly tendrils growing 8-12 m (26-39 ft) in length. Alternate, hairy, deeply palmate leaves with 3-7 pronounced lobes, 10-20 cm (4-8 in) long and wide. Solitary, monoecious, yellow to pale green tubular flowers are borne in leaf axils. Spherical to ovoid fruits measure 20-30 cm (8-12 in) in diameter in wild varieties and up to 60 cm in cultivated forms. Rind smooth, dark green to yellowish-green with light green stripes or dots. Red, orange, yellow, or even white flesh very juicy, sweet, crisp with numerous or few edible brown or black seeds.

Origin and Distribution. Native to semiarid and arid regions of southern Africa. Watermelons are cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions with semi-arid or seasonally dry climates. The watermelon is thought to have been domesticated at least 4,000 years ago, and the plant was grown as a crop in the

Nile Valley in ancient Egypt. It is believed that watermelon seeds reached the Americas during the slave trade in the seventeenth century.

Food uses. The rind of ripe fruits is commonly pickled, stewed, or stir-fried in Southeast Asia and served with savory dishes. The seeds are eaten as a snack after roasting and salting. Immature fruits and leaves are boiled and eaten as vegetables. The peel of the fruit is traditionally used to make jam. In southern Africa, the seeds are roasted and ground into a flour locally called tsamma, a nutritious food with a nutty taste. Watermelons were a traditional source of water and food for inhabitants of the Kalahari Desert.

Comments. There are more than 1,000 varieties of watermelon. The fruits contain about 92% water and 6% carbohydrate and are a good source of vitamin C and beta carotene.

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