Taste Test: Kumquat


A kumquat is one of those things that I always admire at the produce section of the supermarket but never buy. I love the burst of sweet-and-sour-with-a-spicy-kick goodness that this tiny citrus fruit with the beautiful shiny orange skin adds to almost anything. But a part of me doesn't want to cook with it — maybe I'm afraid the novelty will wear off.

Kumquat marmalade

Thinly slice 24 kumquats and 2 oranges. Measure how many cups they add up to, then put them in a large pot. Add 3 cups of water for each cup of fruit, and let it sit overnight. The next morning, bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat & simmer until the rind is tender. Measure the cooked fruit. Add 1 cup of sugar for every cup of fruit mix. Add the juice of 2 lemons, and boil again, stirring occasionally. The mix should eventually turn into gel at about 220F; when it does, remove it from the heat and take the foam off of the surface. You're done! Just put the mixture into jars, seal, refrigerate, and enjoy.

Source: AllRecipes.com

If you do decide to bring kumquats into your kitchen, you'll find that they're pretty versatile. You can eat them raw, cooked, candied, pickled, or as a marmalade. Even just tossing a few peels of the rind can add a ton of flavor to anything. They also last a few weeks in the fridge, so you'll have some time to contemplate and experiment — but you better get them quick because they're a mid-winter fruit, and spring is just around the corner. My favorite rendition of kumquat was on white fish, sea bass it might have been, at some fancy restaurant in San Francisco. So tasty.

Kumquats are full of vitamin C and potassium; in Japan, it is called kinkan, also the name of a popular over-the-counter drug brand that makes remedies for sore muscles, sore throat, and mosquito bites.

Kumquats were originally found in China, but have made their way to Japan, Europe, and North America; Dade City, Florida even has a Kumquat Festival every winter to celebrate its harvest.

Every installment of Taste Test will explore recipes, the science, and some history behind a specific food item.

Image via Miss Meister's Flickr