What does one do when the world is missing a niche? A niche that brings people joy and brings back childhood and family memories? A niche that challenges foodies to add a layer of flavor to their cooking and their lives? A niche that opens the possibilities to new nutritional offerings to all people? What does one do?  Apparently one starts a Calamondin company.

Over 100 years ago Floridians added a quirky, tart citrus fruit to their table. The uniquely thin peel of the Calamondin allowed for it to be included in recipes, typically cake or jam. It isn’t a simple fruit. Because the peel is so thin, it needs to be snipped by the stem so as not to tear the rind and allow the fruit to dry out. Next, one has to remove the stem and the 8-12 seeds in each fruit, about 10% by weight. The fruit’s small 1 1/2″ diameter means tedious work harvesting and processing for use. Who did this work? Florida mothers, wives, sisters, daughters in their home kitchens for special occasions, because they loved their family. What was the end result? Ask the old time Floridians. Notice the glazed, nostalgic look of ecstasy in their eyes.

And then it was nearly gone. America changed. Florida changed. Women left their kitchens and went to work. Citrus diseases killed backyard trees.

Fortunately 25 years ago, my Dad met Jack Spencer. Jack gave Dad a jar of his homemade Calamondin jam. Dad immediately planted his own tree and began making jam for our family and friends, the early stages of our family love affair with the Calamondin. He would ship me jam when I was living in Maryland, and the bright flavor of sunshine in a jar captivated me. I didn’t know what that homemade jar in my fridge up North bode for the future.

Sometime after I fell in love with this flavor, Jack’s wife, Joy, made a Calamondin cake to welcome me for a Florida visit. I never thought there was another taste out there to supplant my chocolate cravings until I tasted that seemingly innocent cake. Its siren song has haunted me ever since.

When I started my medical career in 1991 I never imagined that one day my brother and I would buy a farm to grow palm trees.  I couldn’t picture leaving my clinical Radiology work for a start-up Teleradiology position in Sydney, Australia interpreting imaging studies remotely to benefit patients in need of off hours care.

Then one day my Calamondin passion, the family farm, and my business experience all collided into one, big, life-would-never-be-the-same-again idea. Calamondin Cafe. The missing niche.

Team Calamondin has been building for over 5 years and our commercial kitchen has been open since November 2011. That was when the world officially welcomed its very first and still only Calamondin company. We take from-the-bottom-of-our-hearts pride in bringing epicures and Calamondin lovers a unique product range making every effort to offer something for everyone and considering all dietary constraints. If I don’t love it, we don’t sell it.

We can all agree, when humankind loses something forever, we all lose big. Calamondonians everywhere may rest assured their supply line is online and growing. Enjoy.

Lauri Gutstein, President & CEO, Calamondin Cafe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laurie L. Gutstein, Founder & CEO

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