Though arguably a native of the Philippines, the lemoncito (Sp. diminutive for lemon), or more popularly known in the Philippines as calamansi, does grow and fruit in temperate climates like in California.
The lemoncito is a shrub or a small tree known to grow as high as 3 to 6 meters and is better adapted to tropical areas. Known in the West as the calamondin, its scientific name is citrofortunella microcarpa. Aptly termed microcarpa because of the fruit’s small size, looking like a small orange orb when ripe.
Old childhood memories prodded one to transplant a growing lemoncito shrub from foggy Daly City to our new abode in sunblest Tracy, CA. Nostalgic recollection points one to childhood experiences where the fruit and its many uses figured prominently.
One such use could be classified as medicinal or therapeutic.
As I easily recall we were a family of nine kids, living in cramped quarters in the middle of a bustling city and whose young members were thus most prone to ordinary ailments children were heir to – colds, coughs, sore throats and other irritating EENT conditions.
Our ever resourceful doting mother was always ready with the concoction she called agridulce to treat those minor distractions. And preventatively dispensed with at times when the climes were ripe for them to visit us, like the rainy season, or the very humid nights spent inside our shuttered rooms curled inside our musty mosquito nets.
Agridulce, which is Spanish for sweet and sour, was blended from the juice of the lemoncito, with hot or tap water added, flavored with a liberal dose of sugar, and stirred with all the fruit’s pits swimming in the pale mixture. The fruit’s very sour taste blended well with sweet cane sugar, creditably acquitting its name of agridulce.
Our present lemoncito tree, which grows proudly side by side with a regular lemon tree, appears stunted in growth though abloom with fruits that are now ripening. I blame that on negligent maintenance, due to the long absence of the resident gardener, me.
Still I eagerly look forward to the day when I can harvest the lemoncito’s fruits and make me an agridulce.