Saturday, June 13, 2009

Agricultural Lesson for the day.....

This lovely tree was growing the the yard at my Aunt Dot and her husband, Mint's house. I visited with them for a while this afternoon and came away with a grocery bag full of these little calamondin oranges. They are incredibly sour ( we ate one in the yard), but have a gorgeous smell a bit like a tangerine. Of course, I had no idea what they were and certainly didn't know what to do with them. Aunt Dot said that they could be used like lime juice to make key lime pie, but she had never made one. Now, Key Lime pie, I know about. When I got back to the hotel, I immediately googled it all and found this information. (If you don't feel like learning , skip down to below the next picture.

"Calamondin, a native citrus plant in the Philippines and China, is cultivated in Southeast Asia and elsewhere as an important crop. In the U.S. and Europe, it is grown mainly as an outstanding ornamental. The tree, which is often trained as a bonsai, will bloom year-round; filling the air with the aroma of citrus blossom. Flower and fruit often will appear at the same time. The tree has upright branches with very few thorns and can grow up to 10 feet high. Its 3-inch evergreen leaves are broadly oval and pale green below like those of the kumquat. Its flowers are white and small. The 1 3/4 inch-wide fruit is small, depressed, globose and deep orange-yellow when ripe, loose-skinned and, segmented. The pulp is very acidic. Mature fruit can be produced year round.
It is said that it is an acid citrus, a group that includes lemons and limes. The flesh is orange, juicy and acid, with a fine lime-orange flavor. Because of this, it is usually grouped with the limes. The small seeds are few, with characteristic green cotyledons. One bite of this fruit can pucker your mouth. The fruit, when ripe, is very sour when first tasted. Subsequent tasted fruits make your mouth sweet. If the fruit is picked too soon, it is bitter.
In many Latin countries, the calamondin plant is found in backyards, and the fruit is called 'agri-dulce' (sweet and sour). It is known by the botanical name of Citrus mitis Blanco or Citrofortunella mitis and is considered a good remedy for the 'grippe' (cold). Horticulturists believe that the Calamondin is a hybrid of lime and mandarin, or lime and kumquat, or kumquat and mandarin.
A man named Lathrop introduced this unusual fruit, the calamondin, in Florida in 1899 with a name 'acid orange.' Later, Dr. David Fairchild, who came from Panama, introduced it as 'Panama orange.' The fruit had come to Chile as a stock for mandarin oranges and from Chile went to Panama. Among alternate common names are: calamondin orange; Chinese, or China, orange; Panama orange; golden lime; scarlet lime; and, in the Philippines, kalamondin, kalamunding, kalamansi, calamansi, limonsito, or agridulce. Malayan names are limau kesturi ("musk lime") and limau chuit. In Thailand, it is ma-nao-wan. While in Japan, they call it, sikikan.
Calamondin halves or quarters may be served with iced tea, seafood and meats, to be squeezed for the acid juice. They were commonly so used in Florida before limes became plentiful. Some people boil the sliced fruits with cranberries to make a tart sauce. Calamondins are also preserved whole in sugar syrup, or made into sweet pickles, or marmalade. A superior marmalade is made by using equal quantities of calamondins and kumquats. In Hawaii, calamondin-papaya marmalade is popular. In Malaya, the calamondin is an ingredient in chutney. Whole fruits, fried in coconut oil with various seasonings, are eaten with curry. The preserved peel is added as flavoring to other fruits stewed or preserved. The juice is primarily valued for making acid beverages. It is often employed like lime or lemon juice to make gelatin salads or desserts, custard pie or chiffon pie. In the Philippines, the extracted juice, with the addition of gum tragacanth as an emulsifier, is pasteurized and bottled commercially. This product must be stored at low temperature to keep well. Pectin is recovered from the peel as a by-product of juice production.

The fruit juice is used in the Philippines to bleach ink stains from fabrics. It also serves as a body deodorant. The fruits may be crushed with the saponaceous bark of Entada Phaseoloides Merr. for shampooing the hair, or the fruit juice applied to the scalp after shampooing. It eliminates itching and promotes hair growth. Rubbing calamondin juice on insect bites banishes the itching and irritation. It bleaches freckles and helps to clear up acne vulgaris and pruritus vulvae. It is taken orally as a cough remedy and antiphlogistic. Slightly diluted and drunk warm, it serves as a laxative. Combined with pepper, it is prescribed in Malaya to expel phlegm.

Here's Mint on the ladder cutting down a half a bucket full of the little things. He must really want that pie for the family reunion in two weeks. I am gonna juice them when I get home tomorrow and that should give enough juice to make several pies.

Here we are in the back yard .....remind me not to ever wear this shirt again.

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