The kumquat is the smallest of citrus fruits: its size varies from 2.5 to 5 cm. It looks like a tiny orange. Its flesh is very juicy and divided into quarters. Its skin, very thin and tender, is edible. Like all citrus fruits, the kumquat is native to China. Its name comes from the Cantonese word Kam quat which means “golden orange”. It was already cultivated in this region in the 12th century, and certainly way before in Japan, India, Malaysia and in the Kashmir region. The kumquat was reported in Europe in 1846 by an English botanist, a great traveler for the Royal Horticultural Society. It was thought first that it was a kind of lemon. Research conducted in 1998 showed that Kumquat was in fact a fully fledged citrus species.
A very ornamental fruit tree with slow growth and low development, the kumquat will occupy a place of choice in a tray on a terrace throughout the summer season. During winter, if its cold you can return put it inside and enjoy the beautiful color of its orange fruits.
The kumquat, a very decorative miniature orange tree
The kumquat (or cumquat), of its Latin name Fortunella, is a evergreen tree with a very decorative and slow growing green foliage, which will be used in isolated areas in Mediterranean gardens or in a container to decorate terraces and sunny balconies of other regions. This citrus fruit is part of the family of the Rutaceae, like the orange trees, lemon trees and clementine. They come from the humid forests of southern China and Malaysia, which explains their lack of hardiness under temperate climate. These trees can reach 3 to 4 meters in height in their original regions. In temperate regions, it will need warm temperatures to see beautiful, very fragrant white flowers that later leave the place to small, orange-yellow ovoid fruit (which must be consumed with their skin not to be too acidic).
The kumquat can only be planted in the ground in the so-called “orange” area. They will then be installed against a wall to take advantage of its shelter, in a neutral to slightly acid well-drained soil. Make a contribution of wood ash to its base in winter, this will promote better fruiting.
Everywhere else, they will enjoy a greenhouse, a winter garden or a little heated veranda, in full light, in a mixture of loam and free land. Place a good drainage at the bottom of the pot with clay beads, gravel or pottery shards, to avoid stagnation of the moisture that would be very harmful.
In winter, watering will have to be moderate. From the month of May, when any risk of frost is discarded, you can take out the pot to gradually place it in direct sunlight on a terrace or balcony. A watering or two per week will be necessary during the growing season, as well as a complete fertilizer supply for fruit trees every two weeks. A potting soil will be welcome in early spring, every two to three years.
Kumquat grows in all temperate climates, where citrus fruits are also grown. It comes from China. Today it is also cultivated in Japan, north and South Africa, North and South America and in southern Europe. The main harvesting season is in autumn and winter.
Shopping and storage
The fruit must have a shiny and smooth solid skin when you buy it, otherwise they are usually already dry and not fresh. In fresh conditions they are stable up to four weeks. They are also suitable for freezing. Tip: On hot days, you can use frozen kumquat instead of ice cubes.
Ingredients and effects
Kumquat are rich in vitamins B, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and iron. In addition, it contains twice as much vitamin C as oranges. It acts as a diuretic and astringent and to help with coughing and digestive difficulties.
Use and consumption
Kumquat adds tastes in all the dishes where even oranges are used. They fit very well as a sauce for poultry, lamb and fruit as an ingredient in salads. They can be added to marmalade, jam or compote or rich desserts such as ice cream or fruit salad. They are also suitable for macerate in alcohol, dried, confided and sliced to decorate cocktails. In Asia, they are often turned into syrup or liqueur. If you want to eat them raw, they should be rinsed with hot water, then roll between your fingers or palms. So the shell is soft and develops their flavor. In addition, the fruit then tastes softer and less bitter.