Think of a kumquat like a grape-sized orange—except you eat the entire fruit! The centre is full of tart, citrus flavour and the peel is the sweetest part! Much like the grape, you’ll want to avoid the seeds, but be assured that you can eat an entire kumquat, peel and all! Some varieties are sweeter than others, but kumquat can be enjoyed in so many different ways: sugared, candied, in marmalade, or simply whole. Like mandarins or naval oranges, kumquats are said to bring luck, wealth, and prosperity in some Asian cultures.
Kumquats are typically available from November to March, much like its cousins in the citrus family. Kumquats originate from China and are often seen during Lunar New Year celebrations.
Look for kumquats that are fully coloured orange and firm. Avoid any that have soft spots, mould, or are broken and leaking. Kumquats that are green are not fully ripened and will have a bitter taste. Stick to the bright and deeply orange kumquats that are either round or oblong in shape.
How to Store
Kumquats can be stored on the counter in their original packaging (typically a cardboard box) or if sold loose, then store in a paper bag for up to three days. They can be stored in the fridge the same way or wrapped loosely in a plastic bag for up to 2 weeks. To prolong their shelf life, avoid washing the kumquats until right before you eat them.
How to Prepare
There is not much required to enjoy kumquats: simply wash well prior to eating. You may want to roll them around in the palm of your hand to release the sweet essential oils in the peel, but that’s not necessary. To prepare them for salads or desserts, slice them either lengthwise or across the middle to make coins and remove the seeds.
You can make candied kumquats to be added to salads, cakes, and desserts. Other ideas are to sugar coat and dip them in chocolate for some deliciously sweet snacks, or use them as they are to add flavour to savory dishes. Why not replace orange with kumquat for homemade kumquat marmalade or a sauce to enjoy with cheese and/or meat.
Most kumquat found in stores are either round or oblong shaped. The centennial and nagami varieties are oblong, fairly small and typically fairly tart. The rounder varieties, Marumi and Meiwa, are typically sweeter than their oblong versions. Some varieties may be seedless while others are not.
How to Freeze
Kumquats can be frozen whole for up to 6 months, but they’ll keep much better if you freeze them in sugar syrup. Freeze them whole or cut and deseed them, then cover in a mixture of 1 part sugar to 4 parts water. Once thawed, frozen kumquats are best used in recipes such as marmalade, sauces or as a purée.
- Try swapping kumquats for recipes that call for lemon or orange. Their sweet-tart flavour will bring brightness to any dish!
- Roll kumquats around in your palm or against a counter to release their essential oils. It will yield a sweeter skin that’s tastier to eat!
- Dip candied kumquats in chocolate for an extra decadent treat or beautiful garnish for cakes.
- Kumquat and dark chocolate go so well together: tart and sweet kumquat cuts through velvety dark chocolate.
- Slice kumquats to remove the seeds for easy eating!
Goes well with
Herbs, Sweets & Spices: vanilla, rosemary, sugar, chocolate, cucumber, mint, cinnamon, honey, chilli pepper, and cardamom
Dairy: cream, whipped cream, ricotta, goat cheese, and yogurt
Produce: ginger, orange, spinach, carrot, lemon, lime, cranberries, coconut, blueberries, raspberries, kale, pear, and avocado
Protein: beef, chicken, lamb, pork, almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, hazelnuts, pistachio, and sesame seeds
Kumquats make beautiful marmalade, which goes well on toast, yogurt, or sliced pound cake. Add kumquat marmalade as a filling in between chocolate or vanilla layer cake!
Try adding kumquat puree to a protein like seitan or pork to make a colourful sauce.
You should also try slicing kumquat to make a flavoured simple syrup that can be added to cocktails, sodas, or sangria!
According to the Canadian Nutrient File, 100 g of raw kumquats contain a great number of your daily-recommended intake of nutrients: 73% of Vitamin C, 8% of magnesium, 7% of folate, 6% of iron, 5% of calcium, and 5% of potassium.