Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Kalamansi Juice

The best cure for sniffles resulting from getting wet under the sudden heavy showers, or from your too cold office that requires at least a wool jacket which is laughable in the Philippines, or forgetting to turn up the airconditioner thermostat at night, or just too many nights out wandering wherever despite the rains. The best preventive measure for stress, too, and colds and coughs and flu.

It is just wonderful that kalamansi, or kalamonding by the oldies in Pangasinan, just peaks in season in time with the tag-ulan (rainy months) in the country. Right now they are at their juiciest, and at their cheapest, as well - I don't think the Php15/kilo current price at market stalls could go any lower, although I can find kariton (ambulant carts) vendors who sell full plastic bags weighing about 3/4 kg each at Php10, or approximately P13 a kilo.

That's quite giving it away, considering one kilo can provide a liter of fresh, vitamin-packed juice every night for a week for my family. That's squeezing about 15 pieces of kalamansi on drinking water good enough for four (2 adults and 2 pre-school kids), and adding brown sugar (which accounts for the tea-ish color).

When we have meat during dinner I steep several rooibos teabags plus my choice of herbal flavored tea (best with raspberry), add to the kalamansi juice and we have home-made iced tea rich in vitamin C and anti-oxidants. All natural, nothing synthetic. With enough left-over for second helpings.

Needless to say, I don't keep powdered juices, even bottled, boxed or canned ones, in my pantry. I think they're a waste of money, having nothing to offer except sugar and synthetic vitamins which the body cannot properly process, anyway, so they end up excreted out unutilised fully.

Natural bottled kalamansi and dalandan juices are commercially available anywhere now, but natural vitamins from fruits do not last, so these contain the synthetic ones (that's why they're labeled "enriched with..."), and I don't like the bitter aftertaste from the preservatives.

I don't see the fuss, anyway, in buying convenient, packed food. Well, maybe because I have househelp who squeeze the juice every dinnertime. But I'll gladly do it myself when nobody's around to do it for me. For the kids, who I'm trying to raise free from synthetics.

It's not so inconvenient, really, it just involves slicing off the top of each globule (where the stems were cut off), squeezing the juice thru a strainer big enough to be cradled by the mouth of the juice jug, then adding water, sugar, mixing, then finishing off with several ice cubes to cool. The trusted Rubbermaid jug with built-in mixer attached to the lid that my Flynn bought for me goes a long way in easing the mixing.

The one-kilo kalamansi a week is more than enough for our nightly juice that we also use kalamansi squeezed on bagoong and sliced chili pepper as dipping sauce for grilled fish (bangus! yum!). Also as pang-sigang (the souring agent for sinigang or soured clear broth) using delicate marine fish like talakitok or sapsap and kamote tops.

When the kalamansi season is over laranghitas (dalanghita, dalandan) take over, and they provide a refreshing respite from the very tart kalamansi with their sunnier, orangier flavor.

Dayap (green lime), too, is in season. One fruit is enough for a liter of juice. Both kalamansi and dayap juice drunk hot at night are my proven potent cure for runny nose, along with enough sleep.

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