What’s A Kumquat and How do I Eat One?
Ever wondered, “What the heck is a kumquat?” or “How the heck do I eat a kumquat?” Learn all about these tart little citrus fruits from my garden.
Our property has about 5 kumquat trees of varying sizes. One is large and in the ground, while the others are dwarf trees in Italian pots. These trees look beautiful and add pops of green and orange, but they also produce tasty little citrus fruits. Guests often inquire about kumquats and how to eat them, so I thought I’d put together a post filled with everything you might want to know about kumquats.
What is a Kumquat?
Kumquats are a native Chinese citrus fruit resembling tangerines or oranges, but eaten quite differently. How big are kumquats? They are egg-shaped, about 1-inch long by 1 half inch wide, a bit like large grapes or olives.
Unlike other citrus varieties, the entire fruit is edible. The skin of the kumquat is sweet, while the juice and flesh are very sour. It’s no wonder kumquats are sometimes referred to as the inside-out orange. One friend compared them to “natural sour patch kids.”
What Does a Kumquat Taste Like?
As you might guess, kumquats taste sweet-tart like other citrus fruits such as tangerines, oranges, grapefruit, and lemons. However, most of the sugar is concentrated in the skin, which is thinner than most other citrus varieties and pith-free. While the skin is the sweet part, the juice and flesh are very very tart.
Kumquats grow well in growing zones 9 to 10, and I certainly recommend them if that’s where you live. Even if you don’t have much space, a small tree will brighten any patio. Just be sure it gets plenty of light and has lots of room in the pot.
When are Kumquats in Season?
There are several varieties of kumquat trees and they are in season at differently times. Here in California, one of our backyard kumquat trees has some fruit year-round. However, the smaller trees’ fruit ripens and turns from green to orange around January, with the winter citrus trees.
Where to Buy Kumquats
You can find them in many grocery stores while they are in season. I have seen them in bags from Melissa’s Produce sold at Sprouts. You may also be able to find them at your local farmers market if you live in a warmer climate. When choosing your kumquats, pick fruit that is vibrant orange, shiny, plump, and free of blemishes, since you’ll be eating the skin.
Though we usually just nibble these juicy tart kumquats like a snack, they are also beautiful on cheese boards, sliced on salads, used in dressings, muddled into margaritas, baked into muffins, or used in recipes like these below.
- kumquat marmalade
- citrus fruit salad
- sugared kumquats
- candied kumquats
- kumquat mojitos
- blood orange kumquat smoothie
- High in Vitamin C
- High in fiber
- Fresh kumquats
- Wash your kumquats in water or an apple cider vinegar rinse. As you're eating the skin, it's even more important to choose pesticide-free and give a good rinse, if possible.
- Take a bite or cut about ¼" off one end. Squeeze out some of the sour juice and bitter seeds, if desired. Keep in mind the juice of the kumquat is very very tart. If you like super tart, eat the whole thing, juice and all. The more you remove, the sweeter the experience.
- Eat the rest! Repeat.
Store ripe kumquats, like all citrus, in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator to keep them fresher longer.