Nagami kumquats

Kum-what? I let my 13-year-old chose something new for us to try in the produce section. Her find–kumquats. As you can see from the picture, they look like oranges in the shape of a grape. But apparently there’s a debate as to whether they belong in the citrus family or deserve their own designation. I say kumquats are in a category all their own.

They taste exactly the reverse of what you’d expect (and you eat them whole). The sweet outside rind encases the wickedly sour fruit inside. It was fun to watch my kids give ‘em a try. My middle daughter kept asking, “Are you sure you eat the skin too?” It wasn’t until she bit in that the sour punch hit her. Instant pucker face.

You can eat kumquats like you would grapes (although 2 or 3 and I’d had enough sourness) and/or experiment with them to add a sweet-sour taste to different dishes. To use them in other dishes, cut them in half and remove the seeds then add them to a blender to create a puree. My puree went into some kumquat cookies (I’ll pass along the recipe next week), but if you had any leftover–which I didn’t–I was thinking you could freeze them in small packets and use them to add a zing to barbecue sauce, a viniagrette, so many possibilities. Now I just need to get more kumquats!

You can thank China for the kumquat. Their name means, “golden orange,” and they’re often given as gifts around the Lunar New Year since they symbolize prosperity. In the U.S., there are generally two varieties, the Nagami, which I tried, and  the sweeter, juicier, rounder, Marumi. Doing a little research, I found there are also several kumquat hybrids, like the Limequat–you guessed it: lime + kumquat; and the Calamondin–stumped? tangerine + kumquat. I’m going to have to keep my eyes peeled (sorry, couldn’t resist the lame pun) to find the hybrids.

Your turn–Ever tried a kumquat? Did you like it?

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