One of our local stores, New Seasons Market, will occasionally have kumquats available to sample. A couple of years ago I had never heard of — let alone tried — a kumquat. I posed one uncertainly on my lips. An employee looked on, so I paused and asked, "You really eat these whole, right?" She nodded and smiled at my uncertainty. When I took my first bite a burst of flavor, both tart and sweet overwhelmed me. This was not like the oranges of my childhood!
I wasn't too sure of kumquats, but I tried one here and there. Then one day, I saw them in the stores again, and I bought a bag. Over the next week, I ate them all with enjoyment. They say that children need to try a food 20 times before they can really say whether they like it or not. Perhaps adults are the same. Sometimes it is just the shock of a new flavor or food that turns us off. My first kumquat overwhelmed me. My second interested me. The third, I appreciated. And the last 30 I've eaten have delighted me.
What are kumquats? They are olive-sized citrus fruits that originated in China. Like an orange inside out, the kumquat's peel is sweet, and the inner flesh sour. The two types commonly found in the U.S. are the Marumi kumquat and the Meiwa kumquat. The Meiwa is the more common. Its season runs through the fall and spring.
Kumquats are full of vitamin C and vitamin A, both important vitamins for health and well-being. Liminoids are found in the peel of citrus fruits, and since kumquats are eaten whole — rind and all — they make a great food source. Liminoids have been studied for their cancer-preventing properties.
To eat them whole, remove any stem, pop into your mouth, and enjoy. The seeds are edible, but some prefer to spit them out. I should note that one bag I bought recently was quite sour, while the last two small bags of kumquats I've gotten have been quite sweet. There is definitely some variation according to what variety of kumquat you buy.
I have been enjoying these fruits whole and raw. But there are some lovely sounding recipes using kumquats as well. Take a look.
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