Sure, it’s difficult, but it is possible to say the word “kumquat” without laughing.
The bite-sized citrus fruit – backward from other citrus fruits with its sweet peel and tart flesh – packs a big nutritional punch. Kumquats can be eaten on their own, but they’ve also found places in a variety of recipes.
Read on to learn how to eat a kumquat, which is a trickier issue than you might suspect. You’ll also learn about cooking with kumquats, and about their health benefits.
What Exactly Is a Kumquat?
Roughly translated from its native Cantonese language, the word “kumquat” means “golden orange,” which is a perfect description of the fruit’s thin skin. Depending on the variety, a mature kumquat’s skin color ranges from a bright yellow to orange or red-orange.
Mature kumquats are round to oblong in shape. They range in size from less than an inch long to about two inches long, making them a perfect pop-in-your-mouth treat or an easy and quick recipe addition, both of which are illustrations of how to eat a kumquat.
Kumquats have an unmistakably citrusy taste, but one that is clearly different from oranges, lemons, grapefruit and other citrus fruits.
A Brief History of the Kumquat
The kumquat has grown wild for ages in its native China, but the earliest reference to the fruit in its native land dates to the 12th century. Kumquats have long been cultivated across Asia, from Japan and Taiwan to India and the Philippines.
Kumquats have, of course, been grown for culinary uses, but they also have had cultural, and even medicinal, roles in their natural growing range. As an example of their cultural significance, it is believed in some places that having kumquats in a home brings good luck to its residents.
And. perhaps because the kumquat tree is an evergreen, and its fruits appear either from November through January or mid-December to April, it is used in Christmastime decorations, even in parts of the United States.
How to Eat a Kumquat
For such a small fruit, the kumquat presents a real consumption-related challenge with its sweet peel and tart flesh, which makes it exactly the opposite of other citrus fruits.
So, exactly how to eat a kumquat for maximum enjoyment? Read on for some conflicting instructions.
Wash, Dry, Rub, Remove…and Eat the Kumquat
The classically detailed instructions for how to eat a kumquat call for a number of steps, all designed to ensure the ultimate enjoyment of its citrusy goodness.
If this is the way you choose to eat your kumquat, the first step is making sure you’ve chosen a ripe fruit. Its skin should be yellowish-orange to bright orange in color. A perfectly ripe kumquat’s skin will be firm, without blemishes, and with no shriveling.
Once you’ve chosen a ripe kumquat, wash it under cool running water to remove any dirt or traces of pesticide, and then pat it dry with a paper towel.
From there, the skin of the kumquat can, if you choose, be rubbed or squeezed. Taking this step helps to release the scent of your kumquat’s skin, adding a sweet note to the experience of consuming the fruit.
And finally, this approach to how to eat a kumquat calls for removing its seeds, which have a taste like orange seeds. The fussy approach to this step of how to eat a kumquat calls for slicing the fruit in half and plucking out the seeds. It is, though, perfectly acceptable – if somewhat inelegant – to just spit out the seeds as you come across them.
Just Pop the Kumquat in Your Mouth
Kumquat purists have a far more direct approach as far as how to eat a kumquat, advocating just popping the entire bite-size citrus morsel in your mouth and letting the skin, pulp and seeds combine naturally to give you the full kumquat experience.
A variation on this direct approach to how to eat a kumquat makes some accommodation for those who prefer an all-sweet kumquat experience. It’s perfectly acceptable, many people believe, to make a tiny slice in the end of a kumquat, squeeze out the sour pulp, and just enjoy the sweet skin of the fruit.
It’s Your Call on the Kumquat
Rub the skin or not, swallow the seeds or spit them out, enjoy only the sweet flavor, or get some tart, too – it’s ultimately your call on how to eat a kumquat. And, of course, there’s no reason you can’t use one method sometimes and the other method whenever you choose.
And as you’ll soon discover, there are many ways to get your kumquat on without subjecting yourself to the tough questions of how best to enjoy it straight off the tree or right out of the produce bins at your local grocery store.
Cooking with Kumquats
Of course, the question of how to eat a kumquat doesn’t stop with simply choosing which way you’ll eat the raw fruit. With its alternately tart and sweet flavors, the kumquat can add a distinctive flair to mealtime, including dessert.
The Versatile Kumquat
A brief sampling of the way that high-end chefs use the kumquat finds the fruit, perhaps unsurprisingly, being used as a base ingredient for marmalade.
But other uses outlined in a recent Food & Wine post include using kumquats as an accompaniment to roast goose or duck, cooked right along with the fowl. Equally elegantly, kumquats have been used as part of a cocktail infusion. Kumquats can also be sliced thin, dehydrated, and used in cereal, granola and salads.
A first foray into how to eat a kumquat might be a salad. For that, the Yummly website has a number of suggestions. One recipe calls for combining thinly sliced kumquats (seeds removed), with kale, arugula, mushrooms, walnuts and half of an orange. Another recipe is a fruit salad for kumquats with strawberries and mint.
Making Kumquat Ice Cream
Once you’re confident with incorporating kumquats into your culinary repertoire, you might want to try making ice cream as another version of how to eat a kumquat, as a refreshing springtime treat.
Allrecipes has a simple set of instructions for introducing kumquats into your ice-cream maker. Simply gather together two pints of halved and seeded kumquats, along with milk, heavy whipping cream, sugar and lemon juice, to make this treat.
Kumquats: a Lot of Health in a Little Fruit
Even though they’re tiny, kumquats are classified as a nutrient-dense food. A 100-gram serving of kumquats, comprising about five individual fruits, contains 28% of daily fiber needs, 6 grams of carbohydrates and 9 grams of proteins, all in a 70-calorie package containing less than 1 gram of fat.
Health Benefits for Adults
Kumquats are particularly healthy as part of an adult diet, in large part because their high fiber content helps with weight loss. Medically speaking, the high fiber content can stretch the stomach walls, which in turn slows the body’s production of hunger hormones.
Another health benefit for adults is that kumquats are a great source of calcium, which contributes to bone strength. Eating kumquats can help to increase bone density, which can lessen bone brittleness and may help prevent fractures.
Health Benefits for Children
As a great source of Vitamin C, kumquats can help with a child’s physical development, and can also play a role in protecting young bodies from the flu, colds and microbial infections.
Also, because kumquats, unlike other fruits, are high in carbohydrates, they are an excellent source of energy for youngsters.
Additionally, kumquats are rich in Vitamin A and beta carotene, both of which play important roles in vision.
Wrapping Up How to Eat a Kumquat
We hope that this post has educated you on the history and the benefits of a fruit that you may not have considered as a part of your regular diet, and on how to eat a kumquat. Excited for more kumquat content? Check out our kumquat trees page to learn more about this funky little citrus!