What is a Kumquat?
Kumquats are a member of the citrus family with that bracing citrusy aroma and taste. They are native to Southeast Asia, and not all that well know in the west, and not all that well known or loved here in the U.S. The name “kumquat” translates from a Cantonese word to “golden orange” or “golden tangerine”. Kumquats were brought from Southeast Asia to Europe in the 1800’s, and then made its way to the States where they are now cultivated. Most U.S. kumquats are grown in warmer climes like Florida and California.
Nagami and Meiwa are the most common types of kumquats found in the U.S., though there are other varieties available. Tart Nagamis are the most available variety here.
Beyond eating kumquats, I also like to use them in holiday table centerpieces!
What Do Kumquats Look Like?
Kumquats are usually a bright orange, with skin resembling that of a larger orange in color and texture. They are much smaller, though, and oval — usually about the size and shape of a large olive.
What Does a Kumquat Taste Like?
They are a burst of flavor: sour, tangy, and a bit sweet. Some varieties are tarter than others.
Can You Eat the Rind of a Kumquat?
You can and you should! Bit right into the whole fruit What is interesting about the flavor of a kumquat is that the skin is thinner and sweeter than most citrus fruits, and the inside is much tarter than most oranges. It’s the combination of the skin and the inside that gives this tiny citrus their layered sweet-tart flavor.
How Do You Eat Kumquats?
You can eat the whole fruit, peel it if you don’t want the rind, or slice them and add them to fruit salads and cocktails (they can also be muddled into a cocktail – a big favorite amongst my friends). Kumquats are also often made into marmalades, and can also be pickled and candied.
The juice can also be used in drinks and desserts, though because of the small size, juicing them is pretty labor intensive and unless you have another use for the rinds, it’s not an efficient use of the fruit.
Like most citrus fruits, their peak season is November to March.
How to Pick Kumquats
Look for kumquats with a bright orange and consistent color. The skin and flesh should be firm when you press with your fingers, and they should feel heavy for their tiny size. Avoid fruit that looks wrinkled, or those with any mold on them.
Like most citrus fruits, kumquats are nutritious. They are high in vitamin C antioxidants, low in calories, and have no fat. They are also high in fiber.
How to Store Kumquats
They are best kept in a plastic bag or the container you bought them in in the fridge. They should last for about a week. Because of their thin skins, they don’t last as long as regular oranges or lemons or limes.