Kumquats are a tiny citrus fruit that often goes unnoticed. But despite their size, kumquats are chock full of flavor and nutrients. So, how can you eat these fruits when they’re in season?
You can eat a kumquat raw by rolling it between your fingers to release the aromatic oils and then popping it into your mouth whole, skin and all. The skin of kumquats is edible and sweet, but you’ll want to spit out the seeds. You can also add kumquats to yogurt, garden salads, and smoothies.
Are you ready for this year’s kumquat season? Here’s everything you need to know about the best time to select kumquats, their health benefits, and how to enjoy them.
What Is a Kumquat?
Kumquats are the smallest citrus fruit in the world, but that doesn’t mean they don’t pack a punch. This citrus fruit is grown on small trees or shrubs standing only 8-12 feet tall, making them well suited to small gardens and backyards.
The most well-known species is thought to have originated in southern China and is known as the Nagami kumquat.
Kumquats look a bit like tiny oranges with an oval shape. The skin of a kumquat is sweet and edible, making it one of the most unique citrus fruits available.
The inside contains a few seeds, and the taste is sometimes sour enough to make your eyes water.
What Time of Year Are Kumquats Ripe?
Choosing the best time of year to buy kumquats will ensure you’re enjoying the most delicious fruit. Generally speaking, kumquats flower in the early summer months and ripen sometime between December and March.
Some varieties are in season from November to January, while other options are available from December to April. However, the best times are February, March, or late winter and early spring.
Remember that the best kumquats have a bright exterior without any blemishes or bruises. The skin is shiny, and the fruit has an oblong shape.
The skin of a kumquat is thinner and more sensitive than other fruits, so it’s best to be gentle. If you can’t find kumquats at your grocery store, check your local farmers’ market, organic stores, or Asian markets.
You can also find plenty of good out of season options like Dried Kumquat (on Amazon) that can be used for tea or as a seasoning, and preserved canned Kumquats (also on Amazon) that can be enjoyed pretty much any time of the year
Are Kumquats Good for You?
Kumquats are an excellent citrus fruit with a variety of health benefits. Each kumquat contains about 13 calories, and a full serving is just under 100.
The fruit is high in nutrients such as vitamin C and vitamin A. Furthermore, the edible skin contains large amounts of fiber and antioxidants.
Here are some more health benefits to kumquats:
High in Antioxidants
One of the main benefits of kumquats is their edible skin. Kumquat rinds are full of plant compounds, flavonoids, essential oils, phytosterols, and antioxidants.
Some of the flavonoids found in kumquats have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory elements that may help protect against heart disease and cancer. Phytosterols in the fruit have chemical structures that are similar to cholesterol, meaning they might help lower blood cholesterol levels.
Kumquats have essential oils that leave a fresh scent on your hands and in the air. Limonene is one of the most prominent essential oils and has a few antioxidant benefits in the body.
High in Vitamin C
Vitamin C is an essential vitamin that your body doesn’t produce naturally, meaning you have to get it from your diet or supplements.
Vitamin C is necessary for your body to develop and function correctly. It plays a vital part in your immune function and health. Each kumquat contains around 8 mg of vitamin C, which is around a tenth of the recommended daily intake.
High in Vitamin A
Kumquats also contain high amounts of vitamin A. Vitamin A is an antioxidant, meaning it helps protect your body from the harmful effects of free radicals.
Vitamin A can also stimulate white blood cells and help maintain healthy endothelial cells. Some other bodily functions this vitamin can help include:
- Immune System
Research also indicates that consuming fruits and vegetables containing vitamin A may help protect against heart disease, cancer, and other illnesses.
Rich in Fiber
Kumquats are also rich in fiber. In fact, five kumquats contain around 6.5 grams of fiber, which is about a fourth of the daily recommended intake.
Fiber can help you maintain regular bowel movements and keep your digestive tract functioning properly. Diets high in fiber may also reduce the risk of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
May Help Immune Function
Citrus fruits like kumquats have been used to treat colds, coughs, and other small issues for centuries. This is because certain compounds in kumquats might support your immune health.
The vitamin C found in kumquats may help improve your immune system and its function. A stronger immune system can help you fight off infections and certain types of cancer.
Kumquats also contain a carotenoid known as beta-cryptoxanthin. Some studies have found that people with higher intakes of this carotenoid had a lower risk of lung cancer. However, more research still needs to be conducted for a definitive answer.
How Do You Eat a Kumquat?
There are a wide variety of ways to enjoy a kumquat, including in fresh salads, jams, and more. But perhaps the best way to enjoy them is to roll them between your fingers to release the aromatic oils, pop them in your mouth, and spit out the seeds. Be sure to wash your kumquats before you enjoy them!
The peel is sweet, while the pulp is sour and tangy.
You can also chop up kumquats and enjoy them on top of your favorite breakfast yogurt bowl or include them in a garden salad. Be sure to remove any seeds beforehand to avoid bitter and unpleasant flavors.
Stewing the citrus fruit to create a marmalade is another popular way to enjoy kumquats. Candied kumquats, teas, and smoothies are all great options as well.
If you can’t find any fresh kumquats in your area, don’t worry! You can still experience the unique taste in shelf-stable items like dried kumquat slices (on Amazon) or preserved kumquats (also on Amazon).
Regardless of how you enjoy them, adding kumquats to your diet is an excellent choice. The tiny citrus fruit is chock full of nutrients, antioxidants, and health benefits.