What is it?
Not much bigger than a grape, one of the more unique aspects of the kumquat is that it’s the only citrus you can eat whole, skin and all. The paper-thin skin is where the sugar lies, and there’s virtually no bitter pith. The flesh is extremely, mouth-puckeringly, sour. The seeds, while sometimes a bit crunchy, are small and edible. While they can indeed be eat raw, kumquats really shine when prepared.
Native and very popular in China, kumquats are grown in the U.S. in both California and Florida. They’re at their peak in the winter months, between November and March, similar to most citrus fruit. Kumquats are at their best when the fruit is plump and bright in color –no tints of green — and the skin is firm and free of blemishes. Keep them at room temperature if you’re going to use them within a few days, otherwise store them in the fridge, in an airtight container.
Great! How do I make the most of them?
- 8 oz kumquats
- ½ c granulated sugar
- ½ c cold water
- ¼ c mild honey, such as clover
- ½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
Trim the ends from the kumquats and discard. Slice the remaining kumquats into rounds 1/8 inch thick. Remove the seeds with the tip of your knife.
Combine the sugar, water, honey, vanilla bean and seeds in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Toss in the sliced kumquats. (Depending on the size of your pan, there may be barely enough liquid to cover the kumquats at this point. That’s okay. Just give the pan a good shake or press the slices down with a spatula to evenly submerge them.) Return the mixture to a gentle simmer and cook for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover the pan, and let the mixture sit for 15 minutes.
Strain the kumquats and vanilla bean into a heatproof bowl or jar. Return the syrup to the pan and gently simmer over medium heat, frequently stirring, until it bubbles thickly and measures about 1/2 cup, approximately 10 minutes. Pour the syrup over the drained kumquats and vanilla bean and let cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until chilled through. The candied kumquats will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
Candied Kumquats improve everything!
- Stirred into yogurt
- Plopped atop pound cake
- Tucked inside crepes
- Spooned over ice cream
- Added to a cheese platter
- Tossed with a green salad
- Dropped into a cup of tea
- Perched atop shortbread cookies
- Spooned over pancakes, waffles, or French toast
- Dipped in melted chocolate
Other Great Ideas
- Salmon with Kumquats & Greens
→ not just with sweets, raw kumquats are combined with lime and olive oil to make a salsa, and served with cooked greens and salmon
- Picked Kumquats
→ Eat the pickled kumquats with cheese, meat or salad. The leftover liquid can be drizzled into sparkling water or whisked into vinaigrettes.
- Kumquat Honey Marmalade
→ Use this tangy marmalade spread onto toast in the morning, in between layers of pancakes, or alongside your favorite cheeses for a unique appetizer.
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