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The Meiwa Kumquat

Kumquats are truly one of nature’s candies. These tiny citrus fruits are absolutely bursting with big flavor. Of the many different kumquat varieties available, the Meiwa kumquat is by far the sweetest.

Closeup of kumquats on a tree similar to the Meiwa kumquat.

You may not see these tasty orbs at your local supermarket. This frost-tolerant citrus plant is relatively rare in the United States. While it is commercially popular in East Asia, the Meiwa kumquat is more often seen gracing backyard gardens here stateside.

Read on to learn more about this tasty little fruit and how you can grow your own Meiwa kumquat tree.


What is a Meiwa Kumquat?

The Meiwa kumquat is a cold tolerant evergreen citrus plant native to China. Although kumquats are thought to be the most primitive of all citrus fruits, the Meiwa variety is relatively new on the scene. It was brought to Japan from China in the late 19th century, where its popularity skyrocketed. Over the years, it has slowly made its way into western markets.

A kumquat tree with lots of orange fruit.

Kumquats are members of the citrus family and are considered one of the first domesticated citrus trees. When you first encounter a kumquat, you may mistake it for one of the numerous tiny orange varieties. While they share a similar color, kumquats have a unique sweet-tart taste you won’t find in other citrus fruits. The kumquat is best eaten whole instead of peeled like an orange since the rind is the sweetest part.

The Meiwa kumquat has a few notable differences that make it stand out amongst other kumquat varieties. The skin of this kumquat is much sweeter than the more commonly available Nagami kumquat. The sweet, slightly chewy skin mixes with the tart and juicy flesh in a mouth-watering burst of flavor.

Identifying a Meiwa Kumquat

If you are lucky to live in an area where you can purchase Meiwa kumquats, you should keep your eyes peeled when you stop by the next farmers’ market. Meiwa kumquats are often available in parts of the southeastern United States and California in late autumn.

A market display of kumquat fruit.

You can distinguish Meiwas from other kumquat varieties by paying attention to the size and shape of the fruits. Meiwa kumquats are a smooth, even egg shape with a thin orange rind. The fruits are slightly larger than Nagami kumquats, about 1.5 inches long and one inch wide.


What Does a Meiwa Kumquat Taste Like?

The Meiwa kumquat is a uniquely delicious little fruit. In contrast to similar-looking oranges and tangerines, the kumquat has sugar-sweet skin with a hint of warm spice enveloping the tart and tangy flesh.

Most kumquats are best popped right into your mouth–skin and all! Some kumquat connaisseurs prefer to remove the chewy seeds due to their slightly bitter flavor, while others enjoy the fruits whole.

Bowl of kumquats.

The skin of the Meiwa kumquat is incredibly sweet, while the flesh is quite tart. This combination is as addictive as candy but also packed with fiber and vitamins. Kumquats are an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, and manganese.

This healthy snack disguised as candy is a fun treat for kids. This kumquat tree makes a wonderful addition to family gardens. Kids love eating kumquats, and you won’t have a problem swapping them in for unhealthy candies.


Tips for Enjoying Meiwa Kumquats

While kumquats are best enjoyed fresh and whole, there are excellent ways to use them in recipes too. These citrus fruits are a perfect way to add some zest to any dish, from simple candied kumquats to complex cocktails.

Kumquats make fabulous jams, jellies, and marmalades, as the seeds are high in pectin. If you are growing your own Meiwa kumquat tree, you will surely want to preserve any excess harvest. This kumquat tree produces massive yields of thousands of fruits around Thanksgiving, so you will have plenty to go around.

A kumquat tart.

Kumquats don’t have to be all about dessert, though. The bright, fresh flavor makes a lovely addition to hearty dishes like cured pork, fried chicken, and roasted fish.

You can also substitute kumquat for other citrus fruits in a wide variety of recipes. Use kumquats in place of lemons in pies and tarts for a sweet take on your favorite classics. The sweet-tart flavor of the whole fruit muddled also makes a delightful addition to your favorite cocktails.


Where to Find Meiwa Kumquats

Kumquats are not commercially available everywhere in the United States. If you live in Florida, Georgia, or California, you may have luck finding Meiwa umquats at your local farmers’ market. If not, you should consider growing your own tree at home.

This kumquat tree is exceptionally cold-hardy and can survive in most regions of the United States. Nature Hills sells Meiwa kumquat trees in the springtime, alongside the classic Nagami kumquat variety.

Nursey kumquats in containers.

Meiwa Kumquat Growing Info

Are your tastebuds urging you to grow your own Meiwa kumquat tree yet? Whether you are an experienced arborist or an amateur tackling your very first tree, you can’t go wrong with this kumquat variety.

These dwarf citrus trees have exceptional genes that make them incredibly hardy and resilient. The Meiwa kumquat tree thrives in USDA hardiness zones 8 through 11. If you are able to move your trees indoors when it snows, they can survive down to zone 4b in patio containers.

The Meiwa kumquat is a dwarf-sized tree just over six feet tall that does very well in containers. When grown outdoors in North America, you don’t need to worry about too many diseases or pests. However, be on the lookout for pests like slugs or aphids that could feast on and damage your kumquat tree. An all-purpose fruit tree pest spray should take care of any pesky bugs.

Kumquat trees potted as patio trees.

This kumquat variety does not need much pruning, as it stays quite compact on its own. In order to give your kumquat tree a boost when it is fruiting, you might consider adding fertilizer. Fertilome Fruit, Citrus, and Pecan Tree Food contains the ideal balance of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium necessary to bolster fruit production.

Kumquat trees require excellent drainage whether they are potted or planted in the ground. Look for lightweight potting soil specifically designed for fruit trees to get the best results. FoxFarm Happy Tree Frog Strawberry Fields Fruiting and Flowering Potting Soil is a great way to start your kumquat tree out on the right root.

You can add coarse sand or gravel to the bottom of your container or tree-planting hole to improve drainage. You should especially consider this additional drainage measure if you are planting outdoors in an area that dips below freezing during the winter.

While this kumquat variety is hardy at temperatures as low as 15°F, it does not handle frozen water well. If you experience heavy snowfall during the winter, then you should refrain from planting your kumquat tree outdoors. Instead, keep it in a container near a window where it can get a few hours of full sun without the chill.


Try the Meiwa Kumquat!

Closeup of a white blossom and orange frut on a kumquat tree.

After reading this article, you should have a better idea about what the Meiwa kumquat is and how you can grow your own. If you want to start growing other kinds of fruit trees, check out more of our comprehensive guides.

Excited for more kumquat content? Check out our kumquat trees page to learn more about this funky little citrus!