Kumquats are tiny citrus fruits that taste similar to oranges, but are only about the size of olives (though some varieties can grow up to 2” long). Native to Asia, these sweet little fruits were eventually cultivated in Europe and North America. In the U.S., they are most commonly grown in Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, and California.
Kumquats come from a slow-growing evergreen shrub that only produces about 50 of the fruits each year.
They are usually eaten skin and all, and several at a time, like grapes. In fact, the thin, tender peel is actually the sweetest part of the plant, and can moderate the sour flavor of the center. Their size and flavor make them good for making jams, marmalades, and confections, as well as liquors, which are especially popular in Greece. They make a great addition to salads or cocktails (in place of an olive). In China, people pickle them in brine to preserve them.
Like any citrus fruit, kumquats are high in vitamin C as well as several B vitamins, including thiamin, niacin, pyridoxine, folates and pantothenic acid. They contain many minerals, such as calcium, copper, potassium, manganese, iron, selenium and zinc, and are also a great source of dietary fiber. In addition, they are filled with free radical fighting anti-oxidants, which have ben shown to reduce the affects of aging.
Here are a few kumquat recipes to help you get to know this plucky little fruit:
2 cups kumquats, seeded and quartered
1 tablespoon sugar
1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into strips
2 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 tablespoon chili oil
2 tablespoon fresh ginger grated (tip: you can freeze a ginger root and grate what you want as needed)
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly roasted
Combine kumquats, sugar, and chicken. Allow the mixture to sit for half an hour, tossing occasionally. Combine hoisin sauce, soy sauce, corn starch, cinnamon, and cloves. Set aside. In a wok or large skillet combine chili oil and grated ginger. Sauté on medium heat for 1 minute. Add chicken. Cook for 3 minutes. Add sauce mixture and kumquats. Stir until thickened. Add vinegar. Turn down the heat, cover the pan and simmer another 2-3 minutes, until chicken begins to brown and kumquats soften. Add water if needed during cooking. Toss with sesame seeds and serve over rice or noodles.
24 kumquats, thinly sliced
2 oranges, sliced and seeded
9 cups sugar
2 lemons, juiced
8 cups water
Finely chop the kumquats and oranges, combine them, and measure them into a large pot. Add 3 cups of water for each cup of fruit. Let the fruit soak overnight in a cool place. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the orange rinds are tender. Remove from heat and measure the fruit. Add one cup of sugar to the pot for every cup of fruit mixture. Mix in the lemon juice. Bring the fruit and sugar mixture to a boil and leave it boiling, stirring occasionally, until it is about 220° F when checked with a kitchen thermometer. Remove from heat, and skim any foam off of the surface. Transfer the marmalade to sterile jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace, and seal in a hot water bath. Simply place a wire rack in a deep pot, bring water to a boil, and boil the jars for ten minutes. Carefully remove the jars and set on a towel, allowing them to cool overnight. Check the lids to see if they sealed before storing in a cool place. Refrigerate after opening.
4 cups kumquats, chopped and seeded
1 cup of water
2 cups of sugar
Heat the water and sugar over high heat until it comes to a boil. Simmer for 4 minutes. Add the kumquats and simmer for another 10 minutes. Drain the kumquats through a colander set over a bowl to capture the syrup. Return the syrup to the pan and simmer for another 5 minutes to further reduce it. Combine the kumquats and 1/4 cup of the syrup together and allow to cool.