Welcome to my zone 9a habitat garden near Houston, Texas.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The amazing kumquat

My little kumquat tree that I purchased and planted last spring has been producing a steady supply of these wonderful fruits since last summer. 

Only one year ago I had never tasted a kumquat. Then, in the spring, I was looking for some citrus trees to add to my yard. I wanted a lime, but the nursery was sold out. Then I saw the little kumquat tree. It looked healthy and perky and I thought it might be interesting to grow something with which I was totally unfamiliar. So I took the tree home with me and planted it in a big pot. A few months later, it started producing these little fruits that look like miniature oranges. A few weeks after that, as the first fruits turned a shiny yellow-orange, I plucked one from the tree and popped it into my mouth. Wow! I will not be without a kumquat tree in my garden again.

Many, probably most, botanists do classify the kumquat as a citrus although others put it in its own genus, Fortunella. The plant does look like a citrus and the fruit has a somewhat citrusy taste. It combines sweet and sour. The edible rind is mildly sweet and contrasts nicely with the flesh of the fruit which can be tart and sour. It's a nice taste sensation.

The fruits have tiny seeds which can be removed if the fruit is sliced, but I usually just eat them whole, seeds and all, or sometimes, if the seeds seem especially big, I'll spit them out.

Kumquats can be kept at room temperature after picking for a few days, or you can place them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. You can also leave them on the tree for a good long time and just pick them when you need them, which is essentially what I do.

These little fruits are said to make wonderful marmalades and jams. Although I haven't actually tried it yet, I can certainly imagine that that would be true. They are also used in chutneys and relishes and as a complement to savory dishes, as well as in salads.

Here's a recipe for chutney which sound delicious to me and which I hope to make soon.

Kumquat and Dried Cherry Chutney
1/2 tsp. mustard seeds
1/2 tsp. aniseed
1 1/2 cups sliced, de-seeded kumquats (about 7-8 ounces)
1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed navel orange juice (Prepared juice can be substituted.)
1/2 cup dried cherries
1 T. plus 1 tsp. minced fresh ginger
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast mustard seeds and aniseed. Gently shake the pan in a back-and-forth motion until seeds are aromatic and lightly toasted, about 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a heavy, small saucepan with remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the chutney thickens and the kumquats become translucent, about 10 to 15 minutes.
Transfer chutney to a bowl and let cool before serving. Chutney can be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Bring to room temperature or reheat on the stovetop before serving.
Makes about two cups.
The kumquat really is an amazing fruit; moreover, it is not at all difficult to grow in our area, zone 8b to 9a. Why don't you consider adding one of these small trees to your garden?


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  2. Love kumquats, and always have. I guess you have to like the sweet and sour combination to enjoy them. I've noticed that newer varieties are sweeter than older ones. I have tried jams made with them and they are exquisite. So, I have my little kumquat tree, and good or bad I'm the only one in my family who enjoys them. Here's a link with more recipes. Thank you for the post.

  3. Thanks for dropping by and taking time to comment, Brian.

  4. Hay, thanks for the link, Andi! Great stuff there. I marvel that I was so ignorant of the kumquat until last year. Such an exquisite little fruit and so easy to grow. I believe my tree is of the Marumi variety and it is pretty mild. I would like to try some other varieties. As you say, I believe the older ones are more sour/tart.

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