Surely you’ve ever heard of “oranges from China.” Well, it is time for the presentations, its name is kumquat and it is a very striking little citrus. In addition, it has very interesting properties and benefits for our health.
Table of Contents
What is kumquat?
The kumquat or dwarf orange is an oval fruit between 1.5 cm and 4 cm wide. It has a beautiful golden skin that turns reddish when it matures.
Also, the skin of these foods is fleshy, thin and in most species, edible. The outer layer is usually somewhat spicy and, on the contrary, the inner layer is sweet.
The pulp is not too fleshy or juicy. It is found within acidic fruits such as orange, lime or lemon . In addition, it contains small green and white seeds inside. They ripen very slowly while a color change is observed.
They ripen in late fall or winter and can be left on the tree for several weeks.
Origin of kumquat
Originally, kumquat was classified within the citrus family without any other distinction. However, he later got his own space thanks to Robert Fortune, a Scottish botanist and explorer. In addition, he was the one who introduced this fruit to Europe.
This fruit comes from evergreen shrubs and has its origin in southern China. In Chinese, kumquat means “golden orange.”
Around the year 1700 it began to have a certain importance in Japanese markets. It was due to its decorative capacity and the enthusiasm that its flavor aroused.
Its cultivation was exported from the East to Europe and in the middle of the 19th century it was cultivated in Europe and North America. However, only as an ornamental plant for patios and greenhouses.
Characteristics of the kumquat tree
The kumquat tree (Fortunella spp.) Is small and slow growing that can be between 2.5 m and 4.5 m tall. In addition, the branches are light green, thin, angular and thorny. We can also say that the plant is aromatic.
The leaves of the bush are very similar to those of other citrus fruits such as orange or mandarin. Dark green, bright and aromatic.
The flowers that give way to the fruit have five white petals and a sweet aroma. These flowers appear between spring and summer.
It is currently cultivated in China, Japan, California and Florida , as well as in other areas with a subtropical climate.
They can be grown in a wider temperature range than most citrus fruits (from 36 ° C to -10 ° C), since it better tolerates both cold and heat.
It also has an appearance, physiology and use similar to that of other citrus fruits. What really makes it peculiar is that its skin is edible . In addition, in some of its varieties the skin can be of even better quality than the pulp.
Kumquat, a decorative tree
It is a very decorative and aromatic tree that is ideal for any room. It has attractive bright flowers and colored fruits that can remain on the tree throughout the winter.
For this reason, it is an ideal complement for small gardens or for growing in pots.
In the Iberian Peninsula, it is harvested during the months of January and February as it changes color.
You can check the calendar of the fruit season to be able to consume these foods at their most optimal moment. In addition, when they are in season they provide us with more benefits for our health, they have a better aroma and are tastier , among other advantages.
Varieties of kumquat
There are several varieties of this fruit. We can highlight the following:
Kumquat meiwa. Fortunella crassifolia.
Small, spiny tree with thick, hard and partially brittle leaves. The fruit has a round shape between 3 and 4 cm in diameter. The whole fruit is edible and of good quality and very popular.
The skin is yellowish orange and very thick. It also has a sweet to slightly acid taste. The pulp is relatively sweet with a hint of acidity and is usually seedless. It is used as a decorative plant.
Kumquat de Hong Kong. Fortunella hindsii.
Plant native to the Hong Kong area. It is very spiny with a round fruit smaller than the previous variety and measuring between 1, 5 and 2 cm in diameter.
Its skin is orange in color and is thinner than the Meiwa variety. Also, the pulp has larger seeds. In China, the fruits of wild plants are eaten. However, in other regions it is cultivated as a merely decorative plant.
Kumquat redondo, Fortunella japonica (sin. Citrus maduremis)
The tree is between 2.5 and 3 m tall, similar to the Nagami variety , but more thorny.
The fruit is round in shape and measures between 3 and 3.5 cm in diameter. It has a golden, smooth, fine, aromatic and spicy skin. Likewise, the pulp is scarce, with an acid taste and with few seeds that can normally range between 1 and 3. As an outstanding characteristic, it withstands very low temperatures that reach -5 ºC.
Kumquat oval (Nagami), Fortunella margarita.
The star arrives. It is the variety that we know best. The tree grows to about 4.5 m tall. The fruit is oval and measures between 4 and 5 cm in diameter. The outer part is golden, smooth, fine, sweet and tasty.
The pulp contains seeds, usually between 2 and 5. It is also a bit acidic. As a characteristic we can highlight that it also withstands low temperatures that can reach -10 ºC.
How to buy kumquats?
Always choose Chinese oranges that are firm to the touch and have no spots or bruises.
Due to the thickness of their skin, they can be kept in the fridge for 2-3 weeks. At room temperature it is perfectly preserved for several days.
How do you eat kumquat?
They are normally used as decorative elements in dishes of different recipes.
The cluster of is very beautiful to see together with its shiny leaves. Most of its fruits can be eaten raw, and have a taste between sweet, sour, aromatic and spicy.
They are usually eaten with their skin, like you would eat a grape. In this way, we can eat them whole or sliced, which is a very decorative form in salads or cocktails.
The sweetness of the fruit is found in its peel, which also has acid nuances, while the pulp is bitter.
Try holding it between your thumb and forefinger and roll it back and forth gently several times. In this way, you release essential oils on the skin. Put it in your entire mouth, discarding the seeds as you would a grape. As a consequence, you will feel a delicious explosion of sweet and sour citrus flavor.
In addition, it is recommended to chew these fruits well, the more you chew, the sweeter it will be and the better the essential oils are released.
Kumquats in recipes
They can also be cooked in different ways, although it is better to do it when they have fully matured , to enjoy all their flavor.
Likewise, they can also be preserved in syrup. They can be caramelized by soaking overnight in hot water or baking soda. The next day, they are cut in half and cooked in syrup for a short time, for three days in a row; then pat dry and add the sugar.
Also, it can be cooked into a kumquat jam or confiture recipe . Likewise, it is an ideal ingredient to add in various recipes.
How are kumquats peeled?
As we have already explained, it is not necessary to peel the kumquats or Chinese oranges. Its outer shell is edible.
Properties of kumquat
Kumquats are foods rich in vitamin C like other citrus fruits in which we highlight acerola , orange, mandarin, grapefruit and lemon. In addition, they also provide us with protein and fiber, which in proportion, is higher than many other fruits.
Although in smaller quantities, these fruits also provide us with other vitamins such as B and E. Likewise, they also provide us with minerals such as iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc.
Both the seeds and the skin of the fruits are edible. Both provide us with omega 3. Similarly, kumquats are hydrating foods with 80% water in their composition.
Average nutritional value per 100 grams of kumquat
Benefits of kumquat
Thanks to their nutritional value, they are ideal foods for the whole family. Among its benefits we can highlight the following:
1. Ideal for weight control
This fruit is rich in fiber and water. Thanks to this composition it is a natural satiating agent, ideal for not snacking between meals and following a slimming diet.
2. Rich in antioxidants
Unlike other citrus fruits, Chinese orange contains more antioxidants in the skin than in the pulp. They are rich in antioxidant plant compounds such as flavonoids and phytosterols.
Likewise, these foods also provide us with essential oils that are very beneficial for our health. In addition, vitamins C and E are excellent antioxidants that help neutralize free radicals that accumulate in our body.
3. Favorable for lowering cholesterol
The phytosterols in this citrus fruit have a chemical structure similar to that of cholesterol. for this reason, they can be favorable to block the absorption of cholesterol in our body.
Also, as the following study shows, kumquats extract helps lower blood sugar. Also, total cholesterol, bad LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides.
4. Strengthens our natural defenses
As a common characteristic in all citrus fruits, kumquat is rich in vitamin C. In addition, this fruit provides us with other plant nutrients that help us strengthen our immune system.
These foods are ideal to include in our diet. Thanks to the nutritional properties of these citrus fruits, kumquat is a delicious, very striking fruit with excellent benefits for our health.
My name is Ellie Lauderdale, MD and I am USA based professional Nutritionist .
I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and board certified specialist in sports dietetics who is trained in integrative medicine. I have worked with hundreds of clients, from those suffering with chronic disease to professional and olympian athletes. My goal is to help optimize you from the inside so that you can feel, perform, and look your best on the outside.