Fortunella obovata, better known as the Fukushu kumquat, is a delicious variety of kumquat with large fruit and compact growth. It’s one of the many kumquat varieties that make great additions to your back patio. Whether you slice and eat them fresh or use them as the perfect salad topper, Fukushu kumquat trees make tasty, versatile fruits to have in the kitchen.
Keep reading to learn more about the Fukushu kumquat and why you just might need one in your backyard!
History of the Fukushu Kumquat
The Fukushu kumquat originated in Japan as an accidental crossing between two other Fortunella varieties. Because of its compact size and attractive foliage, this kumquat variety was grown more for ornamental purposes. That’s not to say its large, delicious fruit wasn’t also enjoyed though.
University of California Riverside Professor W.P. Bitters took a trip to Japan in 1963, where he observed this beautiful, unique kumquat. Bitters collected seeds from its fruit and brought it back to the U.S. You could say the rest is history!
Characteristics of the Fukushu Kumquat
Fukushu kumquats average three to seven centimeters in diameter, which is larger and rounder than the typical kumquat. The glossy rind appears in different shades of orange depending on its ripeness. Once you cut open the Fuskushu kumquat, you’ll discover the thick juicy, flesh accompanied by five to eight large seeds.
Even though the fruit is large, the Fukushu kumquat tree is actually quite compact. The semi-dwarf variety features large, glossy leaves and thornless stems, which makes it a perfect container tree for a patio area.
While it flowers May through September, the tree stays active year-round in its hardy areas. It can withstand temperatures down to 28 degrees, which makes it one of the hardier kumquat varieties. It also self-pollinates, so you’re not required to have more than one tree. That’s ideal if you have a small backyard.
Using the Fukushu Kumquat in the Kitchen
Luckily, there are many things you can do with kumquats in the kitchen, from garnishes to marmalades and sweet desserts. So, if you have a plentiful harvest this year, you’re in luck! Of course, the Fukushu kumquat can be eaten fresh. Just wash your fruit thoroughly, slice it, and enjoy!
What Does It Taste Like?
The entire Fukushu kumquat is edible, meaning you could safely eat the rind, flesh, and seeds. While the flesh can be sour and acidic, the rind is sweet, which gives it the perfect balance. If you like fruit that’s not overly sweet, Fukushu will fill that niche. That’s why it’s so versatile in the kitchen.
One of the most popular ways to utilize kumquats is by creating a marmalade, which makes a perfect spread for toast. Try this simple kumquat marmalade recipe, which only uses four ingredients – sugar, lemon juice, water, and a pound of kumquats.
You can also create candied kumquats to use as a salad topper or to mix into ice cream. The recipe creates candy that’s not too sweet, so it can be combined with main dishes or used to tone down sweet desserts.
You can use kumquats as substitutions in other citrus pie, cake, and ice cream or sorbet recipes.
For a more savory dish, try this Asian-inspired kumquat chicken recipe. Using fresh slices of kumquats and a mixture of hoisin and soy sauce, you’ll have a chicken recipe with hints of savory and sweet. Pair it with rice for the perfect dinner!
Not only do kumquats taste great, but they are also good for you! Similar to other citrus, kumquats are high in Vitamin C, which boosts your natural immunity. Just from eating one serving of kumquats, you’ll receive over 65% of the daily recommended amount of Vitamin C.
Eating the rind of a Fukushu kumquat can be beneficial, as it contains many antioxidants that will help your body fight inflammation. Antioxidants have also been linked to preventing many heart diseases and cancers.
If you’re looking for more fiber-dense foods to add to your diet, don’t overlook the kumquat. One serving has 6.5 grams of fiber, which will aid in healthy digestion for your body. Kumquats are also relatively low in calories, so they make the perfect go-to snack during harvest season!
Can You Grow It at Home?
Yes, you can grow the Fukushu kumquat at home! The tree is hardy down to 28 degrees, so if you typically experience mild winters, this kumquat tree will thrive in your backyard. Great examples of these areas include California, Texas, and Florida.
Plant your tree in an area that receives at least eight hours of sunlight per day. When planting the Fukushu kumquat in the ground, it will grow much larger than a potted tree (around 10 to 16 feet), so make sure to provide plenty of space for the tree to grow.
Kumquat trees need loamy, well-draining soil. If you have clay or sandy soil, mix half of the soil you remove from the hole with rich, composted matter. Backfill the hole you dug with the original soil and compost mix.
After backfilling the hole, make sure to step around the tree to remove any potential air pockets in the soil. This will keep the kumquat tree’s roots from drying out.
The Fukushu kumquat tree will need to be consistently watered to remain healthy. Allow the top inch or two of soil to dry out between watering. Watch for yellowing leaves, which usually indicate too much water, while wilting leaves usually indicate an insufficient amount of water.
Growing in a Container
So, you don’t live in sunny California? No problem! You can still grow the Fukushu kumquat in northern zones, but it will do better as a container tree in a well-draining soil mix.
Choose a container that is large, but easy to move. It’s always a good idea to find a caddy with wheels to put your container on, so you can move it when the seasons change.
Similar to a lemon tree, simply move the tree inside once the first frost approaches, and place it in a sunny window.
Where to Find It
The Fukushu kumquat tree is harder to come by than other kumquat varieties, but there are several plant distributors online that sell the Fukushu kumquat tree. Check out Nature Hills Nursery’s large selection of fruit trees to purchase a Fukushu kumquat tree.
If you simply want to purchase the fruit, you probably won’t find this one at the grocery store. Check out your local farmer’s markets during harvest time if you live in one of the Fukushu kumquat’s hardy areas.
If you don’t have any luck with that, you may just have to try growing this delicious kumquat yourself!
Wrapping Up the Fukushu Kumquat
If you want to grow a unique citrus tree in your backyard, the Fukushu kumquat is hard to beat! Not only will you have a bounty of delicious fruit at the end of the year, but you’re also likely to be the only person on your street to have this tree. Talk about a conversation piece!
Are you interested in learning more about kumquats and other citrus trees? At Minneopa Orchards, we want to inspire you to love gardening as much as we do. We have all kinds of posts on kumquats, oranges, and lemons to help you become a knowledgeable citrus grower!
Excited for more kumquat content? Check out our kumquat trees page to learn more about this funky little citrus!