Kumquats are tasty little fruits that look a lot like miniature oranges. They’re relatively easy to grow both indoors and outdoors.
If you’ve put time and effort into carefully tending your kumquat tree, you may be wondering when is the best time to harvest kumquats. Keep reading to learn everything you want to know about harvesting kumquats so you can start enjoying the fruits of your labor.
Kumquat Harvest Season
Kumquat harvest season varies depending on the particular variety you’re growing, where you live, and whether your tree is grown indoors or outdoors.
Like other citrus trees, kumquats like warm weather. The good news is they do very well in containers so you can grow them even if you don’t live in a warm climate.
When grown outdoors, kumquats are usually ready to harvest in late winter. Some varieties continue to develop fruit until early spring. Indoors, kumquats are usually ready to harvest sometime between fall and early spring.
When to Harvest Kumquats
When it comes to harvesting kumquats, how the fruit looks and feels is more important than the date.
You’ll know kumquats are ready to harvest when the color changes from green to deep orange. Some varieties can be a bright yellow-orange when ripe, and some are darker orange.
The fruit should be plump, full, and slightly firm to the touch. If the kumquat fruit is very hard, that means it isn’t quite ready yet and needs a little more time on the tree before harvesting. The fruit should give slightly when gently squeezed but not be overly soft.
Try One First
If you’re not sure if it’s time for harvesting kumquats from your plants, try picking one or two to try. Feel the texture and taste the fruit. A ripe kumquat will have firm skin with soft fruit inside. It should smell delightfully citrusy and be full of both tart and sweet flavor.
If your kumquats taste and feel ripe, then you know its time for harvesting kumquats. If they don’t seem quite ready, wait a week or two and check the fruit again.
Do Kumquats Ripen Off the Tree?
No, kumquats won’t continue to ripen after they’re picked. It may be tempting to pick kumquats early but they need to stay on the tree to fully develop.
For the best flavor and texture, harvesting kumquat should only be done when the fruit is fully ripe.
Do I Need to Harvest Kumquat as Soon as They’re Ripe?
No, kumquat fruits hold well on the tree so harvest season can last for several weeks or even months. They actually store better on the tree than they do in the refrigerator so if you’re not going to use them all right away, it’s a good idea to leave some ripe kumquats on the tree for a while.
Not only is it practical to leave ripe kumquats on the tree, but it also gives the tree a lovely appearance when the bright orange fruits are left longer.
Harvesting kumquats is simple once you know what to look for. The fruits ripen at different times over a period of a few weeks or months, so make sure the kumquats you want to pick are ripe before harvesting.
Use pruning shears or a sharp knife to cut the fruit away from the tree, or just use your hands to gently pull the fruit from the tree. Kumquats that are ready for harvest will release from the tree easily.
If harvesting kumquats results in a large yield of fruit, bring a basket or other container with you to hold the kumquats as you go.
Kumquat Storage Tips
After harvesting kumquat you may be wondering what to do with them. Unlike other citrus fruits, kumquats have thin delicate peels. This makes their shelf life rather short.
Kumquats keep well on the counter at room temperature for several days. If you’re not planning on using the fruit within a few days, they’ll stay fresh in the refrigerator for about two weeks. Put them in a plastic bag or airtight container and keep them in the produce drawer of your fridge.
Ways to Preserve Kumquats
After harvesting kumquats, if you have more kumquats than you can eat or share with neighbors you may want to preserve some of the harvest to use later.
Kumquats work well with many different preservation methods. Here are some ideas to preserve an abundant bounty after your kumquat harvest.
Kumquats can be frozen whole or slice them and remove the seeds to make them easier to use after defrosting.
To freeze: wash kumquats thoroughly then slice them in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Lay the slices in a single layer on a parchment-covered baking sheet. Place in the freezer until frozen then transfer the kumquats to a plastic freezer bag and seal tightly before placing them back in the freezer.
Once defrosted, the texture of frozen kumquat is soft and somewhat mushy which isn’t ideal for eating raw, but they work beautifully in cooking and baking.
Kumquats can be canned whole or sliced. Here’s a simple recipe for canning kumquat.
Jam or Jelly
Kumquats have a sweet, citrusy flavor that is very tasty in preserves like jam, jelly, and marmalade. Kumquat seeds contain pectin which helps preserves thicken, making them ideal for jams and jellies. Try this Easy Kumquat Jam recipe without any added pectin.
What to Do with Your Kumquat Tree After Harvesting
You’ve enjoyed a wonderful kumquat harvest season and now you’re wondering what to do next. There are a few things you can do to ensure you’ll be harvesting kumquat again next year.
When grown outdoors, kumquat trees don’t need much pruning. If grown indoors, you may want to prune your tree after completing your kumquat harvest to keep it a manageable size.
Protect it from Cold
If you live in a USDA hardiness zone below nine or ten and you have your kumquat tree outdoors, you’ll need to protect it from cold temperatures during the winter. Containers can be brought indoors for winter or burlap can be used to insulate plants outdoors if there is just a small risk of freezing.
Kumquat trees can tolerate temperatures below freezing but excessive cold can damage the tree and prevent it from bearing fruit. if you want to get another harvest of kumquat next year, it’s important to protect your tree from freezing during the winter.
In early spring, fertilize your kumquat trees with a citrus fertilizer like Happy Frog. Fertilizing gives your tree an important nutrient boost as it gets ready to produce fruit again.
Trees in containers are especially in need of regular fertilizing if you want to successfully harvest kumquats later that year. Nutrients get used up by the plant and leach out of containers when plants are watered. If you don’t add more nutrients, the Kumquat plant won’t have enough to grow and produce well.
Wrapping Up Everything You Need to Know About Harvesting Kumquat Fruit
Are you looking forward to enjoying some fresh, ripe kumquats? With these tips for harvesting kumquats, you’ll be ready when harvest season arrives. I don’t know about you, but things always seem to taste better when you grow them yourself!
Excited for more kumquat content? Check out our kumquat trees page to learn more about this funky little citrus!
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Sadie Teh has experience writing on a wide range of topics including gardening, outdoor life, crafts, travel, and more. She currently lives on 5 acres near Nashville, Tennessee, where she enjoys growing fruits, vegetables, and flowers (there’s always room for one more plant!)
Sadie’s writing is driven by a genuine desire to help people grow beautiful, thriving gardens while sharing the joy and satisfaction that gardening brings. With a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s in education, Sadie’s background not only adds depth to her writing but also allows her to effectively communicate with a wide range of readers.
Sadie’s favorite things to grow are flowers (especially sunflowers) and tomatoes. When she’s not writing or working in the garden, you can find Sadie substitute teaching at her kids’ school, curled up with a good book, or poring over seed catalogs.
Sadie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org