Kumquat or cumquat closely resembles orange and belongs to the flowering family of Rutaceae. Kumquats are lovingly called the "the little gold gems of the citrus family" or “Chinese Oranges”. This is one of those smallest and weirdest citrus fruit which is eaten as a whole. Kumquat is used in the preparation of marmalades and jellies. The kumquat is derived from Cantonese word gam1 gwat1, which translates to “large tangerine orange” in English. Japanese call it “kinkan”, Koreans call it “geumgyul”, Nepalese call it “muntala”, Vietnamese call it “kim qu?t,” and Thai’s call it “somchíd”. There are four varieties of kumquats: Marumi, Nagami, Meiwa, and Hong Kong Wild.
It is widely believed that kumquats originated in China because their earliest mention is found in the Chinese literature. It is believed that kumquats were cultivated in China as early as 1178 AD. By 1700’s kumquats were introduced in Japan. Kumquats were brought to UK from China in 1846 by Robert Fortune, who served as the plant explorer for Royal Horticulture society. It is believed that kumquat was introduced in America by Japanese in 1885. Since 1895, kumquat is commercially grown in the "Kumquat Capitol" Saint Joseph, Florida.
Kumquats were known as citrus fruits( still they are believed to be one) till 1915, when Dr Walter T. Swingle, from the US Department of Agriculture Citrus Breeding Programme at Eustis, Florida, identified that kumquats belong to Fortunella family.
By 1960’s kumquats were largely cultivated as the ornamental trees. Kumquats are normally valued for their brilliant colors.
Methods of Preparation of Kumquat Recipes
- Cooking: Kumquat is widely used in the preparation of marmalades and jellies. They are also used as the complement for pork dishes, poultry and sea foods.
- Baking: Kumquats are used to flavorise pies, cookies, and cakes.
- Raw preparations: Kumquats are widely used in the preparation of green salads or they are eaten as snacks. They can be eaten as whole.
Kumquats are not suitable for freezing.
Culinary Uses of Kumquats
The rind of kumquat is eatable, sweet, soft and the flesh is very dry and tart too. Kumquats are mostly eaten as raw. Raw kumquats are used as the garnish. Kumquats can be marinated, candied, and is used in preparation of marmalade. The kumquat is poached, added to fruit salads, or preserved as a whole. The kumquat is preserved in salt. The salt mixture combines with kumquat juice to form dark brown brine which is added to hot water to treat sore throats. In some countries kumquats are also added to teas.
Health and Nutritive Value of Kumquat
The kumquat is rich in Vitamin C and dietary fibers. The kumquat is also low in sodium, saturated fat and cholesterol. The worst part is that kumquat gains most of its calories from sugars.
- Devilled kidneys with kumquat and cranberry chutney: The devilled kidneys are served with tangy kumquat and cranberry chutney.
- Raisin pancakes with kumquat butterscotch sauce: The raisin pancakes are served after drizzling kumquat butterscotch sauce.
- Roasted cod with kumquat marmalade and green pepper dressing: This delicious dish attracts the diner with its exotic tastes. The cod is served with kumquat marmalade and finished with green pepper dressing.
- Spiced kumquats: The kumquats are treated to mixture of spices and preserved for long time.
- Venison with rosti potato, roasted vegetables, and a port and kumquat reduction: The kumquat reduction is drizzled over the roasted vegetables that are placed on the venison.
- Roasted haunch of venison with potato and chive cake and kumquat compote: The kumquat compote and red wine sauce is drizzled over the potato cakes adorned with thin strips of roasted venison.
Buying and Storing of Kumquat
Kumquats can be bought with decorative stems and leaves. The fruit that appears soft or fruits with damaged skin should be avoided.
Types of Kumquat
- Meiwa: These kumquats are not available commercially, and they are not recommended in the preparation of marmalade.
- Nagami: This resembles to orange and it is processed into preserves and jams.
- Marumi Kumquat or Morgani Kumquat: It is eaten as raw or used in the preparation of marmalade and jellies.
- Hong KongWild: This edible fruit is used in the preparation of jellies and marmalade.
Miscellaneous Facts about Kumquat
- Kumquat is used as an ornamental plant in many of the Asian countries and is perceived as the symbol of good luck, so it is gifted during Lunar year in China. Its branches are used for Christmas decoration in certain countries.
- Chinese believe that the ripened kumquats indicate prosperity
- Kumquat means gold orange in Chinese.
- Kumquats are cultivated as pot plants.
- Kumquat is one of the hardiest of ever green citrus fruits.