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Kumquats – mini citrus fruits from south east Asia

The Kumquat is the smallest citrus fruit; you can eat it whole – peel, seeds and all. Some people enjoy it as a snack; others find it unattractive raw, but will use it to give a sharp citrus flavour to salads, desserts and stewed fruit or to make a delicious jam. Chopped up and made into sauces or chutneys, kumquats add a fruity note to spicy poultry or lamb dishes. In Asia, these miniature oranges are often processed into syrups or liquors.

Kumquats originated in south eastern Asia, in the area that includes south eastern China, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.

A small fruit, but rich in vitamins

The evergreen kumquat tree belongs to the Rutaceae family, a large plant family which includes oranges, lemons and pomelos. The kumquat grows two to four meters high, the ripe fruit are bright orange and can be round or oval. They are normally less than 4 cm long and weigh between 5 and 20 g. They are sometimes called dwarf oranges and they taste a lot like oranges, although they are actually only distantly related. The flesh is divided into 3 to 7 segments. In addition to carbohydrates, kumquats supply fibre, minerals such as potassium, calcium and phosphorus, B vitamins and vitamin C (44 mg per 100 g).

Buying kumquats

Kumquats are available all year round imported from south east Asia. In winter and spring, consumers can also enjoy fruits from Mediterranean countries. When buying, choose firm fruit with smooth, glossy skin. They will keep in your refrigerator for around two weeks, but if you’re planning to keep them the maximum time, it’s a good idea to wrap fruit individually in clingfilm to stop the skins drying out.

Enjoy a quick snack

The kumquat is one of the few citrus fruits that can be eaten peel and all –after careful washing naturally. You can be fairly sure that the skins have not been waxed or otherwise treated after harvest. The golden orange peel is relatively thin and soft and dotted with oil cells. The main constituent of this oil is limonene, which creates the sweet and aromatic perfume that makes kumquat a special treat. Roll the little fruit around between your fingers before eating to intensify the aroma. 

 

Source: Heike Kreutz, www.bzfe.de