They look so pretty growing on their little trees in China or warm climates such as the USA and Israel. Kumquats to most people are an absolute mystery. They are small, have a beautiful shape and a vibrant orange color but if you try to eat them like any other citrus fruit, you will be really disappointed. Their flesh is really sour! Are they totally inedible or do you just have to know what to do with them?
The name kumquat is actually Chinese and means golden orange. Obviously the Chinese who originally cultivated them, prized this fruit. Unlike most citrus fruits, the sweet peel is the part most commonly eaten whilst they are raw whilst most people reject the flesh as being too tart to be eaten fresh.
To use the flesh of the kumquat it is normally necessary to sweeten it. As such many people boil them up and turn them into jams and chutneys. An exotic alternative to mango chutney or marmalade. Or they add them to sweet breads or cakes to give them a zingy undertone.
They can also be used whole to add interest and a vibrant color to food. Imagine their bright orange spherical shape adorning an otherwise bland plate of roast chicken. It has the ability to lift the dish to a whole new level.
Cocktails are a premium drink and as such they need to look spectacular. Cocktail makers are always looking for ways to make their drinks stand out from the crowd. Kumquats are small enough to sit inside the glass providing a sense of the exotic or they can sit on the edge of the glass without being too intrusive to the drinker. If the bartender wishes to cool down the drink, they traditionally put in ice cubes. The problem with ice cubes is that as they melt, they water down the drink. Kumquats are a great alternative to ice cubes. Store them in the freezer, take them out, put them in the drink and they will add color and cool the drink down without watering it down.
Sourcing kumquats can be a real challenge. Companies such as Gurrami who have orchards on the basalt cliffs overlooking the Sea of Galilee, fly over 100 tons of kumquats to Europe every year. They also can them to preserve them, using no preservatives, just water so that chefs and bartenders have a good quality supply the whole year round.
There are many other uses for kumquats but they are one of those fruits that can really add something special to your culinary creations either through their zesty flavor or their bright color. Your food and drinks can have a touch of the exotic with very little effort.