Can Kumquats Be Eaten Raw?

Published Categorized as Food
Can Kumquats Be Eaten Raw?Eva Elijas (via Pexels)

I used to be one of those people in the grocery store who’d see kumquats in the fruit section, wonder at them for a couple of seconds, then go about their day. Until one day, when my curiosity prevailed and a bought a pack.

Now that I had 2 pounds of kumquat, I had to find out what to do with them. All I knew was that they were part of the citrus family and looked like small oranges.

The first thing that came to mind was, how I can eat kumquats? Here’s what I found.

Kumquats are edible fruit and can be eaten raw. The best way to consume them is whole (unpeeled). Their peel is sweet on the outside and their flesh is tangy on the inside.

A kumquat fruit is about the size of an olive. Sure, kumquats are small in size, but they’re big in flavor. To try one, simply pop the whole fruit into your mouth and chew.

Before eating kumquat, gently roll the fruit between your fingers for 5 seconds. Doing so will release aromatic essential oils from the peel and mix the sweetness of the peel with the tanginess of the flesh.

As soon as you try kumquat for the first time, it’s going to overwhelm your tastebuds with bitter-sweet flavor. Chew them well. The longer you chew, the sweeter the taste will get. You can eat the kumquat seeds or spit them out (as you prefer).

How to Buy Kumquats

Kumquats are native to China and were originally grown in China. They were brought to Europe in the 19th century. Shortly after, Europeans introduced them to America.

Nowadays, kumquats sold in grocery stores across the U.S. are grown in warmer parts of the country like Florida and California.

Kumquats are in-season from November through June. Peak season is January, February, and March. Kumquats are sold at most supermarket chains, grocery stores, and Chinese goods stores.

Since you’ll most probably be eating or candying kumquats whole, it’s absolutely worth to go the extra mile and look for organic kumquats.

Depending on where you live, kumquats may or may not be easily available to you (in that case, you can order them online).

If you’re looking to buy kumquats online, keep in mind that Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, and Hawaii prohibit the shipment of citrus fruits into their states.

What To Do With Kumquats

Kumquats are small citrus fruit that can be eaten whole or candied. They can also be made into jam, jelly, or marmalade. In some recipes, kumquats are an ingredient in marinades for meat and stuffings for poultry.

Here’s my top 10 ways to use kumquats in your home cooking:

  1. Eat kumquats whole
  2. Make candied kumquats (this one is my favorite)
  3. Make kumquat marmalade, jam, or jelly
  4. Use them in marinades and sauces for red meat, poultry, and fish
  5. Add kumquats to your turkey stuffing on Thanksgiving
  6. Bake kumquats into cakes, muffins, and tartes
  7. Puree them to make dessert toppings
  8. Slice kumquats to add a fresh flavor to ginger ale or hard seltzer
  9. Halve them and mix them with other fruits to make fruit salad
  10. Garnish your Whiskey Sour cocktails with kumquats

How do you like your kumquats?

Are Kumquats Good for You?

Kumquats are high in water content and fiber. They are low in calories and contain vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, magnesium, and iron. This turns them into a food that health- and weight-conscious eaters should consider as part of a balanced diet.

Kumquats are usually sold in 2-pound packs. A single pack can contain anywhere between 40 and 50 fruit (depending on their individual size and weight). We’re a two-person household and, when in season, we can go through a whole 2-pound pack for about a month.

Kumquats will only last a couple of days at room temperature before they start to go bad. Store them in a plastic bag or airtight container in the fridge, and they can last for as long as 2-3 weeks.

Frozen whole, kumquats will keep in the freezer for 10 to 12 months. To freeze kumquats, wash them under running water and leave them whole. Combine 2 3/4 cups of sugar and 4 cups in water and mix until the solution is clear. Bring it to a boil on medium-high heat. Cool the syrup and pour it over kumquats. Place the kumquats and the syrup in airtight containers or heavy-duty freezer bags (check out my candied kumquats recipe below).

Here are the nutritional facts for kumquats according to the USDA:

Nutritional FactPer fruit (20 grams)Per 100 grams
Calories13 cal71 cal
Fat0.2 g0.9 g
Cholesterol0 mg0 mg
Sodium10 mg2 mg
Potassium35 mg186 mg
Carbohydrate3 g16 g
Protein0.4 g1.9 g
Nutritional facts for kumquats

The Best Candied Kumquats Recipe

fotolotos /Shutterstock Candied kumquats

Kumquats can also be candied. Use candied kumquats in dressings, frostings or preserves. You can also mix them into stuffing, cakes and muffins.

To make candied kumquats, wash them and put them in a bowl. Make a simple syrup by simmering water and sugar on medium-high heat in a saucepan.

Coat the kumquats in the syrup and let them rest at room temperature for 1 hour. Drain the kumquats and put them in an oven preheated to 180°F (80°C).

Bake the kumquats for 30 minutes. Take the baking sheet out of the oven and turn them to the other side. Bake for 30 minutes more.

After 1 hour of baking, your candied kumquats should be done. Let them cool and put them in a jar or container, so that they’re ready to serve.

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Summing It Up

Originally grown and eaten in China, kumquats were brought to Europe in the 19th century and brought to America shortly after.

Unlike other citrus fruit, these “little oranges” are eaten with the peel. They have a sweet and sour taste where the sweetness comes from the peel and the acidity comes from the vitamin-rich flesh.

The peak season for kumquats in from January through March, but you should be able to find them in most grocery stores from November through June. If you can’t find them in a store nearby, consider shopping for them online.

Kumquats are a pretty versatile ingredient. You can eat them raw and whole, make them into jams, jellies, and marmalades, use them for marinades and stuffings, or decorate your home-made Whiskey Sour cocktails with them.

By Jim Stonos

When Jim isn't in the kitchen, he is usually spending time with family and friends, and working with the HCW editorial team to answer the questions he used to ask himself back when he was learning the ropes of cooking.

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