“And the funniest food of all … kumquats. I don’t even bring ’em home anymore. They just go to waste.”
~ George Carlin, on “Foods Too Funny to Eat”
Kumquats belong to the citrus family, and they look like little oranges, but shrunken down to the size and relative shape of olives. They are native to China, and their English name “Kumquat” sounds like the Cantonese words for “golden tangerine”. They’re a symbol of prosperity, so kumquat trees are given as gifts around Chinese New Year and you’ll see them in Chinese restaurants.
I’ve always wondered about kumquats when I saw them, but we never got a kumquat tree at Chinese New Year, so I had never had a reason to try them until tonight. My mom’s friends have a kumquat tree, and they recently had a good amount of fruit, so they gave some to her. I saw them in her kitchen and told her I had never had a kumquat – how awesome that she had some!
I had never even seen the inside of a kumquat, so I broke one open. The pith on the inside of this one is hiding the meat, but unlike oranges, the pith of a kumquat isn’t bitter.
Kumquats don’t just look like little oranges on the outside, they actually have tiny sections, just like oranges – but you don’t have to peel them and eat just the sections – you eat a kumquat by just popping the whole thing into your mouth – peel and all (I put a blueberry on the plate for a little size comparison).
So, the verdict? Kumquats are delicious! Refreshing! I like oranges, but hate peeling them and getting juice all over the place – plus I’m not a fan of the bitter pith and the big ol’ mess the peels become. Kumquats take care of all those problems, plus although they are sweet, they also have an awesome tartness factor to them and the rind adds another layer of flavor as well – these two differences give the fruit this fantastically more complex flavor profile than an orange.
Kumquats grow well in California, and there are many dwarfed trees available that can be grown in pots. Supposedly, they’re actually one of the easiest citrus trees to grow indoors, too. We are getting a kumquat tree!
GrowCitrus.com – Tips on growing your own citrus trees
Growing Tasty Tropical Plants in Any Home, Anywhere:
(like lemons, limes, citrons, grapefruit, kumquats, sunquats, tahitian oranges, barbados … black pepper, cinnamon, vanilla, and more)