Eat this miniature orange with the peel for a tasty snack.
Kumquats, known in Cantonese as ‘golden tangerines’, are a fruit originally from Asia. The first mentions of them in literature date back to the 12th century. Native to northern China and long cultivated in Japan, they were imported to Europe in 1846, and later to the United States by Robert Fortune, a botanist from the London Horticultural Society. The kumquat tree is also a lovely decorative plant–bushy and evergreen, which is what helped it spread across the Old Continent. This Asian fruit is part of the Fortunella genus (not citrus as with similar fruits) but the name ‘tangerine’ is still apt: inside and out they look like miniature oranges. They’re available in winter, from november until March.
What makes kumquats unique is that you can eat them whole, skin and all. The skin is actually very sweet, balancing out the tartness of the the pulp, which has a flavor somewhere between a lemon and an orange. They can be candied to use in cakes with ricotta or cream, and it’s not uncommon to see them garnishing cocktail glasses. Kumquat chutney is common in Asia, especially alongside boiled or stewed meats. This delicate fruit also perfectly complements sea bream or sea bass.
Did You Know That?
Kumquats are rich in minerals, and their peels full of essential oils. They can be a great boost to a vegan diet, enriching salads and brightening up veggie and rice patties. If eaten at the end of a meal, they can be beneficial for digestion. That’s why kumquats are used in an infusion of alcohol and sugar and filtered to produce a digestif liqueur. Not even the leaves are discarded: they can give teas an orangey aroma.