If you're fortunate to live in a citrus growing area or have your very own kumquat tree, now might be the season to enjoy these little winter jewels. While harvest may range between December and June, in many areas kumquats are at their peak in February and March.
Originally from China, kumquats have been cultivated in other Asian countries and throughout the world. In the US, most kumquats are grown in California, Florida, and Texas. The two most common varieties are the oval Nagami kumquats and the round, slightly sweeter Marumi kumquats.
The fruits may be small, but they pack quite a punch. Eaten peel and all, kumquats are sweet on the outside and piercingly tart on the inside. They can be eaten raw (try them in salads), candied, made into jams and relishes, added to drinks, and cooked. Cooking kumquats mellows the acidity a bit, and they can brighten up savory tofu, meat, and seafood dishes. They also work particularly well in dishes with rich spices like ginger, cinnamon, or star anise.
When shopping, choose fruits that are bright orange, firm, and fragrant. Store kumquats at room temperature for a few days or in a bag in the refrigerator for up to a couple of weeks.
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(Image: Flickr member LaoWei Kevin licensed under Creative Commons)