The little gem of the citrus family continues to delight us with its distinctly citrusy flavor and a surprisingly appetizing peel.
Scientific classification: citrus family
Kingdom – Plantae
Family – Rutaceae
Four to five species are currently accepted –
- Fortunella crassifolia ( Meiwa kumquat)
- Fortunella hindsii ( Hong – Kong Kuwait)
- Fortunella japonica ( Nagami Kuwait)
- Fortunella obovata ( jiangsu kumquat)
- Fortunella polyandra ( Malayan kumquat)
A mini orange that originated in china:
Kumquat is a citrus fruit that resembles an orange, except for its shape and size. With sweet edible skin, the mini orange grows best in warm areas but can withstand cold. The slow-growing evergreen shrub bears dark and glossy green leaves with white flowers. With dense branches that sometimes bear thorns, the shrubs are usually fifteen to eighteen feet tall.
Each tree bears 80-100 fruits annually and the trees are hydrophytic too. The term Kumquat is derived from the Chinese words – gam and gwat – meaning gold and tangerine respectively. The fruit originated in China and is cultivated in southeast Asia, the middle east, Europe, and the southern USA.
Citrofortunella – the hybrids:
The hybrids are termed citrofortunella – a few of them being limequat, orangequat, and calamondin. The fruit readily hybridized with the other members of the genus citrus. The fruit season lasts from late autumn to mid-winter. A ripe kumquat has a yellowish-orange tint, it is considered ripe as soon as it sheds the last green tinge. The fruits are green on the insides.
unripe,green kumquat hanging on a tree branch
The dwarf plant that undergoes winter dormancy:
The plant doesn’t go well on rooting and can rarely grow from the other kumquat seeds. Propagation is usually done by grafting onto trifoliate orange hence the name dwarf fruit. The trees enter a state of winter dormancy – they survive through several weeks of warm weather without putting out new shoots or blossoms.
A big nutritional punch encased within a small fruit:
A 100-gram serving accounts for 16-gram carbs and 71 calories, 80 percent weight of the fruit being water. It is less with vitamin C, vitamin A, and potassium. The fruit contains flavonoids which are largely present in the edible peels, phytosterols that lower blood cholesterol, and essential oils like limonene. The flavonoids have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
The common varieties include – hong kong, marumi,meiwa, and nagami.[citrus family] These are a few distinguished botanical species.
Culinary uses: an easy-to-go snack
Candied fruits, kumquat preserves, marmalades, jellies, and pickles make use of the dwarf fruit. They replace classic olives as martini garnish and are often savored as salads. They are usually preserved in salt or sugar.[citrus family] The fruits are buried in salt beds in a glass jar which causes dehydration.
close-up of kumquat honey marmalade on bread slices
The fruit then turns dark brown and shrinks in size while the salt combines with the juice to become a dark brown brine. salted kumquats with brine, when mixed with hot water, can soothe sore throats. Preserved kumquats last several years and keep the taste as it is.
close-up of dried kumquats
Kumquat trees are often used for ornamental purposes.[citrus family] In Vietnam, bonsai trees of the shrub are used as decoration on the occasion of the new year
kumquat bonsai at an exhibition
They are savored as an addition to both hot and iced tea. Liquors are made by macerating kumquats in a clear spirit.[citrus family]