Kumquat Is the Sweet-Tart Vitamin C Superhero You're Not Eating

Here’s why you should give kumquats a chance.

Grapefruit? Sure, you've indulged. Oranges? Eaten hundreds of them! Kumquat? Uh…Kum 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.

What Are Kumquats?

Kumquats are a variety of citrus fruit native to China. It wasn't until 1846 that they were introduced to Europe, and later, the United States. In the U.S., 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. There are six main varieties of kumquats that range in size, growing patterns, and texture—Round, Oval, Meiwa, Hong Kong, Jiangsu, and Malayan.

Buying and Storing

Like most winter citrus fruit, kumquats are at their peak between January and April. Look for bright orange fruit that are plump, firm, and feel heavy for their size. Once you bring your kumquats home, you can leave them at room temperature 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.

How to Cook With Kumquats

Kumquats can be snacked on like any fruit, but we also love topping salads with sliced kumquats or letting them take center stage on a savory cheese board. Their tart flavor pairs well with a mild soft cheese. You could juice kumquats for tropical lemonade or use them in place of lemon in a vinaigrette. If you're not so keen to pucker, use them as a decoration, such as place card holders on a gorgeous holiday tablescape.

Health Benefits

A single kumquat has slightly less vitamin C than an orange. (Kumquat: 73 percent of RDA, orange: 92 percent), 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.

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