Kumquats are one of those fruits you see in the grocery store and always want to buy but never do because you aren't sure what they taste like or how to eat them. But by the end of this article, you'll feel confident enough to buy not one pack but two! And you'll sure be glad you did, as these bite-sized citrus fruits are bursting with a unique sweet-tart flavor that's hard to resist.
What is a kumquat?
Kumquats are the smallest citrus fruit in the world. The little fruits earned the name kumquat— Chinese for golden orange— from their eyecatching color and orange-like scent. While kumquat trees originate from China, they're now grown and harvested in warmer climates worldwide, including other Asian countries, Greece, California, Texas, and Florida, to name a few.
Ripe kumquats are slightly larger than a grape with an oval shape and bright orange color. Their skin should look shiny, taut, and free from any blemishes. Look for packages that still have a few green leaves attached, as they tend to taste the best.
Unlike most fruits in the citrus family, you can pop the whole thing in your mouth, peel and all. The peel of a kumquat tastes sweet, and the juice inside is surprisingly tart, so when eaten together, they create a sweet-tart citrus flavor that's unique to kumquat fruit.
Are kumquats healthy?
If tart flesh and sour juice weren't enough, there's a lengthy list of health benefits that will convince you to eat kumquats more often. Here are a few of the health benefits of kumquats:
- Kumquats are loaded with Vitamin C. You can get 100% of your recommended daily intake of immune-supportive Vitamin C in less than 10 kumquats.
- The fruit also contains a significant amount of Vitamin A, Vitamin E, iron, magnesium, manganese, calcium, and several B vitamins.
- Additionally, kumquats are rich in plant compounds like flavonoids, antioxidants, and essential oils that may help to reduce inflammation, protect against heart disease, and boost your immune system.
- In addition to their anti-inflammatory properties, some studies on mice have also found these plant compounds and flavanoids can fight obesity and support weight loss.
- Kumquats are 80% water, so they're super hydrating, refreshing, and filling.
- Because you eat the whole fruit, kumquats are packed with fiber, which helps improve digestion and keep you satiated between meals. Five kumquats have around 6.5 grams of fiber.
- Kumquats' high fiber content also makes them a suitable fruit for people on a low-carb or keto diet. There are less than 2 net carbs per kumquat fruit.
- Their small size and sour taste make them a great snack for people who are trying to lose weight, eat more fruit, or eat clean. Pop one or two in your mouth between meals or after dinner to curb cravings and enjoy a little something sweet.
When and where to buy kumquats
Depending on the variety, kumquats can be in season any time from November to April. The most delicious fruits will be available during peak season in February and March. Under-ripe and out-of-season kumquats are less sweet and even bitter at times. Not to mention, more expensive and harder to find.
Though kumquats are becoming more and more popular, they still aren't always available at most supermarkets. The best place to find them is at Asian grocery stores, gourmet food stores, organic grocery stores, and even some farmers' markets depending on where you live.
How to Eat a Kumquat
How you choose to eat a kumquat is entirely up to your personal preference. While some enjoy eating kumquats whole, others prefer to squeeze out a little juice to make them taste a bit sweeter. The fruit's sweet and tart flavors make them a hit in kumquat recipes too. Here are a few ways to eat kumquats:
Pop the entire citrus fruit in your mouth
Many fruit enthusiasts argue that the best way to enjoy that unique kumquat taste is to pop the whole fruit in your mouth, peel and all. This way, you get the balance of sweet peel and sour flesh that nature intended.
Start by rinsing thoroughly and chew slowly for a long time to sweeten the flavor. To make the kumquat less tart, nibble the skin off one end and squeeze out a bit of the sour juice inside before popping it in your mouth.
Sliced the citrus fruits in salads.
Kumquats can also be sliced in half or quartered and used in salads just like other citrus fruits. Use them in place an orange or grapefruit in a summery green salad or toss them into a fruit salad for a bit of tartness. Candied kumquats also make for a great sweet or savory salad topping.
Candied or baked into desserts and baked goods.
Kumquats also bring a unique flavor to baked goods like cake, pie, or cookies when used in place of oranges, lemons, limes, and other citrus fruits. Bake them in whole, squeeze the tart juice into icing or drizzle, or candy them for a decorative garnish.
Cooked into homemade marmalades, chutneys, and jams.
The unique combination of sweet and tart flavors makes kumquats an excellent choice for sweet and savory toppings, sauces, and spreads. If you're feeling adventurous, try making some homemade kumquat marmalade, jelly, jam, chutney, marinade, or salad dressing.