Here's Why Kumquat Is the Uniquely Sweet-Tart Fruit You've Got to Try

We think you should give kumquats a chance.

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Grapefruit? Sure, you've indulged. Oranges? Eaten hundreds of them! Kumquat? What? This variety of citrus isn't as common as those other fruits, but kumquats are worth a try.

With their uniquely delicious (albeit lip-puckering) tartness, kumquats deserve a place in your fruit basket. And even if they're already there, you may wonder what to do with kumquats. Read on for everything you need to know.

What Are Kumquats?

Kumquats are a variety of citrus fruit native to China. They weren't introduced to Europe until 1846 and arrived even later in the United States. In this country, the majority of commercial kumquats are grown in California and Florida. Kumquats transform from tasting sweet on the first bite to super tart in a matter of seconds.

Unlike other citrus fruits, the skin and flesh are both edible; surprisingly, the skin is sweeter than the flesh (compared to the bitter white pith found in lemons and oranges). Kumquats are closer in size and shape to a lime or large olive than an orange or grapefruit.

Six main varieties of kumquats range in size, growing patterns, and texture. They include:

  • Round
  • Oval
  • Meiwa
  • Hong Kong
  • Jiangsu
  • Malayan

Nutritional Value

A single kumquat has slightly less vitamin C than an orange, but it's still an excellent source of this vitamin that functions as a powerful antioxidant. It's also less than 100 calories, contains 6.5 grams of fiber, and has a high water content, which keeps you fuller for longer.

Like other brightly-hued fruits, kumquats are high in carotenoids (plant pigments with health benefits), including the antioxidant beta-carotene. The body converts beta-carotene to vitamin A, a nutrient that helps keep the skin, eyes, and bones healthy. 

How to Buy Kumquats

Like most winter citrus fruit, kumquats peak between January and April. Some mainstream supermarkets sell them, but you will likely find them in Asian or specialty grocery stores. Look for bright orange to yellow-orange fruit that is plump, firm, and feels heavy for its size. If it's green, it's not ripe yet. Steer clear of kumquats with blemishes or shriveled parts.

How to Store Kumquats

Once you bring your kumquats home, you can leave them at room temperature (but out of direct sunlight) for two to three days. If you're not planning to use them immediately, place them in the crisper in your refrigerator for up to two weeks. Kumquats also freeze well for up to six months.

How to Eat Kumquats

Kumquats can be snacked on like any fruit and don't need to be peeled. Just wash it well and bite right in! The peel is sweet, while the flesh and juice taste tart. You can also slice it horizontally and scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Or, you can incorporate them into drinks or dishes.

Preparation Ideas to Try

  • Top salads with sliced kumquats.
  • Let them take center stage on a savory cheese board.
  • Pair their tart flavor with a mild soft cheese.
  • Juice them for tropical lemonade.
  • Use them in place of lemon in a vinaigrette.
  • Puree them and fold them into marmalade.
  • Use them to decorate, such as name cardholders on a gorgeous holiday tablescape.

Beyond Kumquats: Three Other Unique, Brightly-Hued Fruits

Kumquats aren't the only bright-colored (and therefore antioxidant-packed) fruit you might be neglecting at the supermarket. Next time you're in the produce section, slow down and look for some other unusual fruits with health-boosting, disease-fighting compounds.

Dragon Fruit (Pitaya)

Like kumquats, dragon fruit contains beta-carotene in addition to a number of other antioxidants. Your local fancy coffee shop probably offers a smoothie with dragon fruit, but chances are, that's the closest you've come to buying one. This bright pink, oval-shaped tropical fruit hails from South America. Its skin has scales, and the fruit inside is a melon-like texture that's creamy white with tiny black seeds. It tastes fresh and lightly sweet, a little bit like watermelon.

How to eat it: Slice it down the middle and cut off the inedible skin. Then chop it into chunks and add it to yogurt, granola, or a smoothie bowl.


You'll get five-point stars when you slice this bright yellow tropical fruit into cross sections. While it was originally native to eastern countries like Indonesia and India, this antioxidant-rich fruit is now grown in tropical areas worldwide. The skin is waxy, and the flesh inside is a combination of sweet and sour with a texture like a grape.

How to eat it: The entire fruit, including the skin, is edible. Slice it crosswise into stars and eat it as is. The stars can also be a cool garnish for cocktails or drop them onto salads or other fresh dishes. Or use starfruit as your main fruit in a pie or pudding.


Like kumquats, papayas are another orange-hued fruit that tends to be less popular than oranges and cantaloupes. But it's also brimming with beta-carotene. And this green-skinned, pear-shaped fruit with a sweet and creamy, orange center is worth adding to your diet. Originally from Mexico and Central America, it's grown in warm climates throughout the world. It tastes similar to cantaloupe but with a hint of pumpkin.

How to eat it: Make sure it's ripe, slice it in half, and remove the seeds. Then scoop out the soft flesh, slice it up, and enjoy. Or add it to salsas, salads, salad dressings, or anything else you'd put melon in.

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