pronounced KUHM-kwaht

Brief history and overview

What is a Kumkwat? This word is generally taken to refer to the small fruits (also referred to as kinkan) of the Kumquat tree, an evergreen that typically grows up to ten feet in height, although this may vary. Though their origin lies in China and Indochina, they are now they are frequently cultivated in Japan and in the warmer states of the US like Florida and California, since the tree is better grown in a warm climate. In spite of this, it is very tolerant to low temperatures and may survive a 10-15 degrees celsius environment without any damages.

The use of the Kumquat is both edible and ornamental - Although most kumquat trees are cultivated for their edible fruits, they are nowadays not uncommonly used as ornamental plants, particularly attractive with their shiny leaves and summer-blooming white flowers, their branches particularly utilised as Christmas ornaments. The leaves are from 1.25 to 3.5 inches in length, and the seed content of the fruit is both variable and related to the type of kumquat.

The fruits of the kumquat tree are small and edible, and might be mistaken by the lay person as freak mutant dwarf oranges. In fact much confusion rose through the centuries as people began to wonder what a kumquat really was. Up till 1915, it was considered to be a citrus - however, in that year a decision was made to attribute it to the genus fortunella. Still, they share many characteristics with their citrus close relatives. The particularity in the kumquat fruit is in their juiciness, having a sweet outer skin contrasting the tart flesh within.

The kumquat tree offers more than one type of fruit, with varied tastes. There is the Meiwa kumquat, Nagami kumquat, Marumi kumquat... All alter slightly in shape, hue or taste. The Meiwa for instance, has a sweet outer skin and inner flesh. The Nagami sports an oval shaped and has a yellow skin. The Marumi has a round shape and an orange colored skin. .

Identifying a Kumquat

Kumquats are not hard to identify due to their particular a kumquat bright orange or yellow skin color, and are either oval or round in shape depending on the type of kumquat grown, and are normally 1.5 inches in length.

The Kumquat and You

Next - how do you relate to your Kumquat? How can you pick the best fruits, and when is the best time? The answers to these questions are as straightforward as this pseudo-orange - usually, one is able to buy kumquats from December till June at ethnic stores, and perhaps with luck in the larger super market stores. The best kumquats are those which are unbruised and firm to the touch. Placed in a plastic wrap in the fridge, this fruit will keep for a couple of weeks.

There are various ways in which to consume the yummy kumquat - one can eat it whole, add it to fruit salads and desserts, to make jams marmalade, jellies and as candied sweets (a popular Chinese confection). Pickling the fruit or making kumquat syrup is also possible, to preserve for future use.

The Kumquat: the queen of weird fruits

If you live in a warm climate and require a plant that is both decorative as well as a food source - why not consider a kumquat tree? It will provide pleasure to both the eye and the palate

Adding to the interest held by this quaint little fruit, kumquats have also great nutritional value, turning them into a healthy snack. being free of cholesterol, fat and sodium, they are a good fibre source (like most fruit) and provide vitamin A and vitamin C They are cholesterol, fat, and sodium free and provide a good source of fiber and of the vitamins A and C.

Kumquat Trivia

Every year Dade City in rural Florida holds the kumquat festival. In this event, one is able to view and participate in kumqaut pageants, best-kumquat-costume contest (?), and the kumquat queen contest, to name a few.

It is often served in Chinese Spring festivals, as its name in Chinese means 'gold', and symbolises prosperity for the coming year.

They are one of Peter Falk's favourite foods. .

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