April 30, 2014

Kumquats! The Super-Freaky Superfood You Should Seriously Consider Checking Out

So I recently fell in love with the bizarre fruit known as the kumquat.  It's intensely tasty, plus it's nutritious and low cal.  It's sort of like eating little marmalade bullets, sweet and sour and bitter all at once, but with no jammy guilt or anything.

Yet kumquats must have really crappy social skills! Or the poor fruit hasn't figured out it needs some PR and marketing help.  Because even though I've always been vaguely aware they existed, I hadn't ever actually tried one until this year.

Kumquats are hard to find in stores, even in season. I finally scored some at a farmers market after a friend turned me on to them, approximately 50 years after I first heard of them.  (It didn't help that all these years I had them confused with loquats, which as kids we used to steal off neighbors' fruit trees and called them kumquats. But loquats are an entirely different fruit. Loquats are yellow and smooth-skinned and not citrusy, and have a big-ass seed in the middle. They are tasty too, if you have a nearby tree to steal from).

So, what's so awesome about kumquats anyway?

1. Kumquats are totally tasty and addictive.

Kumquats have such an intense citrusy sweet/sour thing going on, it's almost like candy if you know how to tone down the sour part (see below). And they come in tiny grape-sized fruits, so you can practice portion control if you have that ability.  You get a lot of little fruits to keep you entertained for a much longer time than you'd spend on one big boring fruit.

2. Kumquats are super nutritious.

Truly, I'm not making it up!

But it's annoying that it's hard to find a bunch of mainstream reputable nutritional authorities to back me on this. My usual go-to nutrition resources like World's Healthiest Foods etc don''t seem to give a damn about kumquats. They're just not popular enough to get all the "superfood" studies and press, even though they are, by all accounts, packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, essential oils, and various antioxidant, antimicrobial, cancer-fighting, inflammation-suppressing and immune-boosting compounds.

Can we get the scientists and scholars on this please? The whole kumquat nutrition thing needs a bit more attention, because only obscure kumquat sites seem to go into any detail. Yet there is kumquat research that mentions impressive nutritional data as though everyone already knows it.

3.  Kumquats are Weird and Freaky, But in a Good Way.

Yep, this fruit is counterintuitive, contrary, and crazy-assed... because the skin is awesome and the fruit within is decidedly less so. It's an inside-out, mixed up fruit, which makes it kind of adorable.

The skin, which looks like an orange, is sweet and delicious and totally edible. And the center of the fruit is quite tart and a bit bitter.

You can eat the whole thing, including the seeds within, but some find it too sour.

But the glory of the kumquat is that the fruit is totally customizable! Cut in half and squeeze out as much sour as you don't want to deal with.  If you like it tangy, eat it whole.

If not, squish and just enjoy the sweet part, you wimp.

(I too am a wimpy squisher).

Either way, you get the nutritional wallop of eating fruit skins, which people are always saying you should do because they are full of fiber and oils and mysterious compounds that are magical and way better for you than the fruit itself.

4. Are kumquats the same as cumquats?

Yes! Kumquats are also called cumquats, if you are European. But we're not going to have an extensive discussion about prefixes, ok? Let's see if we can prevent the totally wrong kind of googlers coming to visit.

5. What about kumquat calories?

I've seen sources say you get 7-8 kumquats per a 100 gram, 71 calorie serving, but those must be bigger kumquats than what I had in my carton.  I got 13 to enjoy in a 100 gram serving.

And if my food scale is f--cked up and underestimating everything I'm weighing? Please don't tell me. 

6. Where can I find kumquat recipes?

Most kumquat recipes seem to be instructions for jam, which makes sense since they taste like marmalade. But I'd rather skip all that sugar myself.

However, I came across a brussels sprouts with kumquat glaze recipe (which also features quinoa and feta cheese), which looked intriguing, as well as a kumquat-pimping site run by growers which had a whole bunch of kumquat recipes.

But in order to have enough for a recipe, I'd have to find them again and hold off eating them all at once so I could cook with them! And so far that just ain't happenin'.

Do any of you eat kumquats? Any recent food discoveries that have become addictions?


  1. Hmm, I shall go on a kumquat mission later. It may be possible to find them in town though I may have to make it a far-ranging mission over an extended period of time. That said, go kumquats!

  2. I've seen these but had no idea how to eat them - wondered how in the world you'd peel something so tiny...but now that I know you're supposed to eat the skin, I might pick up a few. Thanks for such an informative post (OK and for being the guinea pig on this one, lol).

  3. I haven't had kumquats in YEARS. I have vague memories of eating them as a kid - I think one of our neighbors had a tree. (Now that I think about it, I remember buying whole coconuts every now and again and I haven't done that in eons either!)

  4. I always see kumquats at Whole Foods. The whole thing, huh? I may have to try them in a smoothie - seems like it could be a good thing.

    Those seeds are a bit freaky-looking what with the seafoam green color.

  5. Well thank you for this. I had no idea. I can remember my mother mentioning them eons ago.. and not much else about them. Perhaps they were in an old song lyric or something.

    I can't say that I've seen them around but I am going to be looking for them from here on in. May through October, we'll have a nearby Farmer's Market on the weekends, and although it's mostly local stuff, someone might be into getting some on their table. We can hope. :)

  6. I am totally looking for these the next time I go to Whole Foods. I love freaky new fruit especially if I already have eating instructions!

  7. We are blessed with a small kumquat tree in the back yard, and we love them! Sometimes i squeeze out a couple of the seeds if i don't feel like eating them all, but usually i just chomp down.

  8. I am not a tart person so maybe the skin. :)

  9. Thanks for the tips. It's been a while since I've had a kumquat.

  10. I have never had a kumquat and the tart part has scared me right off. Great food experiment!

  11. I've never had a kumquat - maybe I will try one this year.

  12. we love love love love love thoses here too.
    but hadnt tried until this past year.
    we be slow to try new stuffs :-)

  13. I can remember my parents eating kumquats when I was little, and that I didn't like them. I'm way more into the tart, now. I shall keep my eyes open.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  14. many benefits of visiting this blog post because of the many articles that increase knowledge for me personally, thank you

  15. What a find and great tips about "how to" as well :)!! Frankly, I just like saying the name out loud... It has a sort of refined sense of fun about it. Now, off to actually find some.

  16. We have a kumquat tree in our backyard. The first two years it performed great but now nothing. It's overrun with suckers and pruning it doesn't seem to help. I guess it's time to plant a new one. The fruit was more sweet than tart.

  17. I don't understand why kumquats are the red headed stepchild of the fruit world, their name alone makes them fascinating.

  18. I remember a small basket of them being on the coffee table at my uncle's house when I was about 12. I had never seen or heard of them before. He invited my brother and me to try them. The entire basketful disappeared!. I kinda doubt that is what my uncle had in mind however. We loved them. My parents offered to replace them until we found out how much they cost! A small fortune to our lower middle class family in those days. I have not had one since but would hope they are more reasonable priced these days. Apparently they were considered exotic back then (about 1960, yeah, I'm old). Will be on the lookout again.

  19. They are definitely my favorite fruit. Very hard to find so I planted two trees! Now I'm happy all the time!


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