What Is Kumquat?
Kumquat, also known by its scientific name Citrus japonica, is a group of small fruit-bearing trees belonging to the flowering plant family Rutaceae. Kumquats were previously categorized as forming the now-historical genus Fortunella or placed within Citrus, sensu lato. Kumquat closely resembles the orange in color, also known as Citrus sinensis, and its shape, although it’s much smaller such as a large olive. Another thing you need to know about kumquat is that it is relatively cold and hardy Citrus. Kumquat is an English name derived from the Cantonese “kamkwat.”
The plant is native to China, with the earliest historical reference to it appearing in Imperial literature from the 12th century. However, kumquats have also long been cultivated in other parts of East Asia (Japan and Taiwan), South Asia (India), and Southeast Asia (mainly in the Philippines). In 1846, kumquat was also introduced to Europe by Robert Fortune, a collector for the London Horticultural Society, and afterward, the plant spread to North America. Kumquat is a slow-growing evergreen shrub or short, dense branch that sometimes bears small thorns.
The plant leaves are dark glossy green, and the flowers are white, which is similar to other citrus flowers. They can also be borne singly or clustered within the axils of the leaves. The kumquat tree can produce plenty of fruits annually, although it all depends on its size.
What Is a Kumquat Fruit?
A kumquat fruit closely resembles an orange and grows on small kumquat trees. However, the peel of the kumquat fruit is thin and sweet but has tart flesh that makes it easy to eat whole. Therefore, although it belongs to the citrus family of fruits, it’s a bit unique and sweet.
What Is a Kumquat in Spanish?
Kumquat in Spanish is called una kumquat or un kumquat. Although China is the country that mostly grows these fruits, they are also found in other countries.
Tart Kumquat Size
Kumquat is a tiny fruit. It’s even smaller than an orange, as it has a size similar to a large olive. The tart kumquat size in hand is approximately 2.5 cm or 1 inch. It also has a mildly acid juicy pulp and sweet, edible, pulpy skin. The oval kumquat is the most common species you can find on the market. This oval species of kumquat fruit is also called Nagami or Fortunella margarita.
The citrus taxonomy is pretty complex and controversial, which has made the different systems place different types of kumquat in different species. It may also have united them into as few as two species. Before, they were viewed as falling within the genus Citrus, but the Swingle system of the citrus taxonomy brought them to their own genus, Fortunella. The recent phylogenetic analysis suggests that these fruits indeed fall within Citrus. However, Swingle divided kumquats into two subgenera known as Protocitrus and Eufortunella.
Protocitrus contains the primitive Hong Kong kumquat, while the Eufortunella comprises the round, oval, and Meiwa kumquats. However, Tanaka added two others which are the Malayan kumquat and the Jiangsu kumquat. According to chromosomal analysis, the Swingle’s Eufortunella represents only a single true species. In contrast, the additional Tanaka species were somehow revealed to be hybrids of Fortunella and other Citrus, such as the xCitrofortunella. Another recent genomic analysis concluded that one valid kumquat species did not include the Hong Kong variety. However, another recent review concluded that genomic data was insufficient to conclude that kumquat cultivars represented distinct species.
Types of Kumquat Fruit
Here are the various types of kumquat fruit.
1. Round Kumquat
The round kumquat is also known as marumi kumquat or morgani kumquat. The tree produces edible golden-yellow fruits. The fruits are small and ordinarily spherical, although sometimes they are oval-shaped. The peel is known to have a sweet flavor, but the fruit is distinctly sour around the center. You can eat the fruit or even cook it, although it’s primarily used to make jellies, marmalades, and other spreads.
The round kumquat is mainly grown in Luxembourg and can also be used to cultivate bonsai. It is a plant known for symbolizing good luck in China and other Asian countries. Therefore, it’s often kept as a houseplant and given as a gift during the Lunar New Year in China. Since round kumquats have a high cold tolerance, this makes them mainly cultivated in China compared to the other species of kumquat.
2. Oval Kumquat
The oval kumquat, also known as nagami kumquat, is ovoid in shape and can be eaten as a whole, including the skin. However, the inside of this kumquat species is sour, but the skin tends to have a sweet flavor. Therefore, when you eat the fruit as a whole, you will experience an unusual tart-sweet but refreshing taste. Oval kumquat ripens mid to late winter and usually crops very heavily, creating a spectacular display against the dark green foliage.
The tree is small in nature, and this makes it suitable for pots and occasionally bonsai cultivation. The “centennial variegated” kumquat cultivar spontaneously arose from the oval kumquat. The tree produces plenty of fruit to peel than the oval kumquat. However, the fruits are rounder and, at times, necked. These fruits are distinguishable by the variegation in color since they exhibit bright green and yellow stripes and their lack of thorns.
3. Meiwa Kumquat
The meiwa kumquat, also known as Citrus crassifolia, is a plant brought to Japan from China at the end of the 19th century. It has seedy oval fruits and thick leaves and was classified as a different species by Swingle. You can eat its fruit as a whole with skin.
4. Hong Kong Kumquat
The Hong Kong kumquat, also known as Citrus hindsii, produces pea-sized bitter and acidic fruit with large seeds and little pulp. It’s mainly grown as an ornamental plant, though it’s also found in southern China. It is a primitive kumquat and was described by Swingle as the closest to the ancestral species where all Citrus evolved. This Hong Kong kumquat has a tetraploid and commercial diploid variety called the Golden Bean kumquat with slightly large fruit.
5. Jiangsu Kumquat
The Jiangsu kumquat, also called Citrus obovota, bears edible fruits that you can eat raw and make into jelly and marmalade. It produces round or bell-shaped fruits that become bright orange when fully ripe. You can distinguish the plant from other kumquats by its distinctly rounded leaves. Jiangsu kumquat is mainly grown for its edible fruit and used as an ornamental plant. However, it cannot withstand frost like the round kumquat that has a high tolerance to cold. Jiangsu kumquats are often seen near the Yuvraj section of the Nayak Province. Chromosomal analysis showed this variety to be similar to the hybrid one.
6. Malayan Kumquat
The Malayan kumquat, also called Fortunella polyandra, from the Malay Peninsula, known as the “hedge lime,” is another hybrid, maybe even a limequat. It has a thin peel on larger fruits than other kumquats.
What Does a Kumquat Taste Like?
As mentioned earlier, a kumquat has a sweet tart-like taste similar to other citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, tangerines, and grapefruit. But, most of the sugar from the kumquat is concentrated in the skin, which is usually thinner than most of the other citrus varieties and pith-free. Therefore, the kumquat flavor is distinctly citrusy, while the fruit is a bit sweet, although the overwhelming taste is sour and tangy. Kumquat peel is astonishingly appetizing and has a lot to offer.
How to Eat a Kumquat
So, how do you eat a kumquat? This section will highlight some of the best ways to eat this unique, citrusy fruit. Check out the steps below.
- Select a ripe kumquat – Ripe kumquats have bright orange to yellow-orange color. Avoid greenish kumquats because they are usually not ripe. The skin of the kumquat should also be firm and free from blemishes or shriveled areas.
- Wash and dry the kumquat – After choosing a ripe kumquat, the next step is to wash and dry it. First, rub the peel under cool, running water. Since the peel is also edible, the last thing you want is any trace of pesticides or dirt. After washing, pat the fruit dry with a paper towel.
- Rub the fruit – This is the best way to eat kumquats because when you rub the fruit between your fingers, it releases the sweet, citrus-like scent of the rind.
- Remove the seeds – This is an optional step since the seeds of kumquat are not poisonous. However, they also have a bitter taste, like orange seeds. To remove the seeds, you’ll have to slice the fruit in half and pluck them out. There’s also the option of removing the seeds while eating the fruit or chewing them up if you’re okay with it.
- Eat and enjoy your kumquat – Surprisingly, kumquats have a sweet rind and sour flesh. Therefore, you can nibble the end of the kumquat to taste the rind. Some kumquat species are less sour while others aren’t. If you’re not impressed with the flavor, you can try a different type of kumquat or even use it in cooking. If you don’t want to experience the sour taste, there is the option of squeezing the juice and eating the peel only.
- Store the extra kumquats – If you happen to have remaining kumquats after eating, no need to worry because these fruits can last for two days at room temperature. To extend the storage period, you can take an airtight container, put in the remaining fruits, and keep them refrigerated for two weeks. You can even eat them cold or allow them to warm up after removing them from the refrigerator. However you prefer, kumquat fruits are pretty versatile, reliable, and sweet even after storing them for the recommended long period.
The kumquat tree, also called Citrus japonica, is a very easy type of tree to grow. This is the most beautiful one with dark green and glossy leaves compared to other citrus trees. So, what is the kumquat tree look like? The tree is known for its bright orange fruits, which are deliciously sweet and tart. The tree is native to eastern Asia and typically small and beautiful. However, it requires medium water, frequent fertilizer, and sandy loam fine clay sand to grow appropriately. Although it’s native to China and other parts of Asia, it has spread throughout Europe and the Americas.
Dwarf Kumquat Tree
There are dwarf kumquat trees that provide normal-sized fruits on smaller trees. These trees are particularly welcomed in home gardens because they ripen in mid-winter like the other kumquat trees. The dwarf kumquat trees are created by grafting scion wood to the dwarf rootstocks. Therefore, the size of the dwarf kumquat tree significantly depends on the type of rootstock used. Most of the kumquat dwarf trees have a height of between 8 to 10 feet and are ideal for small backyards or containers on balconies and patios.
Nagami Kumquat Tree
The nagami kumquat tree is one of the most frost-tolerant among the dwarf kumquat trees. It has aromatic spring flowers, a bush-like growth pattern, and its cold tolerance make it well suitable for container gardening. Although it’s easy to grow this tree in the ground, some gardeners opt to keep it close to their homes due to the many aesthetic attributes that it provides.
Calamondin Kumquat Tree
Calamondin is quite similar to kumquat as they are related, although it has a more robust bouquet – a sweeter aroma than lemon and more like orange. Similar to the kumquat tree, calamondin can also bear fruits and flowers yearly in successive waves. You can harvest the fruit is when it’s yellowing and tinged with green.
Calamondin is referred to as the cousin of kumquat, and some people even mistake it for kumquat. This is because calamondin is also a cold-tolerant and small-fruited Citrus. The main difference between calamondin and kumquat is that kumquats are elongated capsules, while calamondins are spherical. Another difference is that kumquat trees are weaker than calamondin trees.
Tart Kumquat Tree
The tart kumquat tree isn’t bigger than a grape, yet it produces plenty of mouth-watering fruits with a burst of sweet-tart citrus flavor. It’s also easy to grow this tree in cold areas since it is resistant to cold, and if well taken care of, it can produce plenty of fruits to eat and enjoy.
What is kumquat used for? You can use kumquat in many ways, such as eating marinades, sauces for meat, fish, or chicken. You can also use kumquat in jams, jellies, and marmalades. Another notable way to use kumquat is to slice them into salads.
Kumquat Marmalade Recipe
This is an easy low-sugar spiced kumquat marmalade made with kumquats, honey, agave, or maple syrup. This kumquat marmalade can be a delightful addition to yogurt bowls, toast, and cheese platters. It can also make an excellent homemade gift.
It takes 45 minutes to prepare, 45 minutes to cook, and an additional 2 hours. Therefore, it takes a total of 3 hours 30 minutes.
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- Two cups of prepared kumquats
- One cup of white sugar
- Small pinch of cayenne
- One cup of cold water
- One anise
- Slice the kumquats in quarters lengthwise, cut off the white center membrane, and remove the seeds. Next, slice the quarters into small pieces.
- Place the kumquats into a pot. Add the lemon zest (the white part only), lemon juice, star anise, water, sugar, and pinch cayenne. Mix, cover, and allow it to sit at room temperature for two or three hours to allow the fruit to macerate. You can also refrigerate overnight.
- Place the pot over medium-high heat and ensure the mixture simmers while stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to medium, cook, and occasionally stir for 10 minutes. Continue cooking and stirring until you confirm the mixture is thick to properly scrape with a spatula across the bottom of the pan. To see the bottom of the pan, you can check before the marmalade spreads back out. Do this for 30 to 40 minutes. Ensure the mixture reaches a temperature of 215 to 220 degrees Fahrenheit, which is 120 – 125 degrees Celsius. Turn the heat off and allow cooling for 5-10 minutes.
- Finally, spoon-warm the marmalade into sterilized jars, cover, and allow it to cool at room temperature. Refrigerate until it is thoroughly chilled.
Kumquat Jam Recipe
When you keep this jam refrigerated, it can stay for up to three weeks.
- One and a half cups of sugar
- One cup of gewürztraminer or other medium-sweet white wine
- One pound of fresh kumquats sliced and seeded about 3 cups.
- 1 (3-inches) cinnamon stick
- Combine the sugar and wine in a medium saucepan over a medium-high rate.
- Bring to a boil and stir until the sugar dissolves.
- Add the kumquats and cinnamon to a pan.
- Cover, reduce the heat and simmer for approximately 45 minutes.
- Uncover and bring to a boil.
- Cook until it’s reduced to two cups for about 15 minutes.
- Discard the cinnamon stick.
- Cool, cover, and allow it to chill.
Kumquat Recipes Chicken
This is a pan-fried kumquat chicken recipe with Hoisin sauce and sprinkle in sesame seeds. It’s perfect with rice.
- Twenty ounces of chicken breasts cut into ¼ inch thick slices.
- Three tablespoons of vegetable oil.
- One clove garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon of sesame oil
- Two thinly-sliced green onions
- One tablespoon of soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon of ground Szechuan pepper
- ¼ teaspoon of salt
- One tablespoon of soy sauce
- Two tablespoons of hoisin sauce
- ¼ cup of water
- One teaspoon of corn starch
- One teaspoon of sugar
- Marinade the chicken with soy sauce, Szechuan pepper, and salt for twenty minutes.
- Combine all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
- Heat them in a large frying pan and add two tablespoons of vegetable oil.
- Put the chicken thighs in a single pan and fry for 3 – 4 minutes on either side until it’s golden brown and well cooked.
- Remove and arrange on a plate, and when cool enough, slice them into ½ inch strips. Use aluminum foil to cover them and keep warm.
- Heat the other one tablespoon of vegetable oil in a small saucepan. Sauté the minced garlic for about 20 seconds and pour in the sauce mixture. You’ll notice that the sauce will quickly become thick and bubbly.
- Stir in the kumquats and turn off the heat immediately, then add sesame oil.
- Pour sauce over the cooked chicken and sprinkle sesame seeds and sliced green onions on the top.
- Finally, serve with steamed rice.
Kumquat Nutrition Benefits
Here are some benefits that kumquat offers.
1. It helps in Weight Loss
Kumquat is a fruit rich in fiber, carbohydrates, and water. The fruit is also low in calories, making it suitable for people who are on the quest to lose weight. When you eat kumquat fruits, they will fill you up, keep you healthy, and reduce the urge to overeat.
2. They Help in Eye Care
Kumquats also contain vitamin A and beta-carotene, and they are connected to vision health. Beta-carotene functions as an antioxidant that helps to reduce oxidative stress in the macular cells. Therefore, this helps to limit macular degeneration and reduces cataracts development.
3. Kumquats Help to Manage Diabetes
Studies conducted on obese rats showed that the flavonoid extracts contained in kumquats could lower blood lipid levels. In addition, a report by the Michigan State University stated that kumquats could be a great addition to your winter diet. They help lower sugar content, have zero cholesterol, 0.1 grams of fat, and have low sugar content.
4. Kumquat Helps to Build Strong Bones
The calcium content contained in kumquat helps to protect bones. This is because high calcium levels in the body can significantly increase the healing rate and ensure you have healthy and strong bones as you age.
5. Kumquat Boosts Immunity
Since kumquats are rich in vitamin C, they highly impact the immune system in your body. Research was done in Switzerland on vitamin C and its immune function. It showed vitamin C is powerful and acts as a co-factor for biosynthetic enzymes. Therefore, it stimulates the growth of new cells and helps to boost the immune system.