Have you ever had a kumquat? It’s a funny, cute name for a refreshing, little citrus fruit, native to Asia, that can be eaten, skin and all! It’s sort of like an orange, but it’s much smaller…with a size more like that of a large olive. There really is no other fruit that you can eat in this way, and if you don’t eat the whole thing, you’re missing out. Yes, SKIN AND ALL!
Like many citrus fruit, kumquats are full of Vitamin C and B-Complex vitamins, but because you also eat the peel, they are also rich in many essential oils, anti-oxidants and fiber that you might not get from other citrus fruits (since you’re not eating orange peels, right???)!
While there are different types of kumquats, the kumquat tree that I grew up with in Southern California produces beautiful and fragrant white flowers and Nagami Kumquats. The fruits are more oval than the other varieties, and with the peel being sweet and pulp and juice being sour, the combination is the perfect balance.
When I was a youngster, old enough to be home alone but too young to drive a car, our house wasn’t within walking distance of a grocery store or market. Hence, I was usually left with whatever my parents had in the house, when it came to snacking. Since my mother was quite health-conscience, the typical sugar-filled treats were nowhere to be found. So, I turned to our citrus trees. We had orange, grapefruit, lemon and kumquat trees, and the kumquats were by far the easiest to just pick off the tree and pop into my mouth. Instant gratification! I remember how sweet the peel was and how perfectly sour the inside was. And I was amazed that I could eat the whole thing, skin and all.
I recently stumbled across a recipe for Kumquat Simple Syrup, and my mind went immediately back to those days years ago. Now that I’m older, I wondered what it would be like to add that unique flavor to a cocktail. (Thank you, Food Republic!) So, this past weekend my husband, daughter and I were at my parents’ house, and I thought it would be the perfect time to try out the simple syrup recipe, using some of the kumquats from the very same tree I used to pick as a pre-teen.
We ended up using the simple syrup to make a Kumquat Bennett Cocktail, but it can be used for a variety of cocktails. In fact, kumquats can be used in recipes ranging from marmalades to salads, bread, cakes, pies, sauces, chutneys and even beer!
Here are some sites that offer kumquat recipes:
Once you try one, I’m betting you’ll fall in love…and if you’re anywhere near Dade County in Florida, you should check out the Annual Kumquat Festival! I might just have to make a trek, myself. 🙂