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April, 2008

Cute Kumquats by Christina Pirello

By Christina Pirello

Kumquats are a fruit that has its origins in China and grow on a tree that can reach 20 feet in height. The delicious original fruit measures about 1-2 inches in size, with a thin, tender, edible rind, which is fragrant and sweet and varies in color from a dark orange to a rich yellow.

Kumquats
When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time with my Italian grandfather. He was an amazing man, an extraordinary woodworker and carpenter and a great influence on me. He altered how I saw the world. He was also odd...on one hand, he had very conventional tastes in food...scrambled eggs with fresh peas was his favorite dish, followed closely by fried pork chops…not too adventurous and not too many veggies, unlike me! But then, he would arrive home with all kinds of exotic fruits, from pomegranates to kumquats.

Kumquats are a fruit that has its origins in China and grow on a tree that can reach 20 feet in height. Interestingly, it owes its name to Robert Fortune, the British botanist who introduced this amazing fruit to Europe in 1846. The word, ‘kumquat’ comes from the Cantonese ‘kin ku,’ meaning golden orange. The kumquat is now cultivated in several regions of the world, including the West Coast and Southeastern U.S., the Mediterranean, Asia and South America and is often crossed with other citrus to create variations of the original fruit...limequat, lemonquat and orangequat.

The delicious original fruit measures about 1-2 inches in size, with a thin, tender, edible rind, which is fragrant and sweet and varies in color from a dark orange to a rich yellow. The flesh, which is divided into 5 sections containing large seeds, is pleasantly tart...yummy. The kumquat is rich in vitamin C, potassium and copper…but be advised…if you are allergic to the rind of citrus, you will probably have the same reaction to kumquats. Look for kumquats that are firm, with glossy skin that is free of cracks and blemishes. Avoid overly soft kumquats as they are old and will spoil rapidly.

Note that kumquats are more delicate than other citrus and will only keep for 5-6 days at room temperature and about 3 weeks in the refrigerator. As for serving the delicious kumquat – it tastes best just rolled gently between the fingers to release the essential oils in the rind…then pop it right in your mouth, whole, unpeeled and fabulous! That said, kumquats are great in stuffings, breads, muffins, poached, marinated or as a part of a sweet and sour sauce…they also make delicious jams and marmalades.