"Would you like a kumquat?" The three boys on the couch just looked at me. Joe, our young paperboy said, "Sure." He was out collecting for his paper route with his two buddies. His parents were from the Ukraine. He was always looking for any extra jobs he could do for us around the yard. I gave each of them a little citrus bomb of bitter-sweet flavor. From the wide-eyed looks of bewilderment when they bit down on the fruits I could tell they were unhappy that they had agreed to eat one. Joe, however manfully chewed his golden drop, smiled, wanting to please, and then nodding his head asked for another.
Late winter and early spring is when the kumquat makes an appearance at our local grocery store. At nearly $7 a pound I don't buy a whole bunch of them, but I'll select a couple of handfuls and then eat them like candy. I'll walk around the house, or sit at my computer with seven or eight of them and piece by piece pop them into my mouth savoring each one as they explode. I think you're supposed to spit out the bitter seeds, but they just add to the crunch and the experience. Unlike candy seven or eight kumquats weigh in at only around 100 calories.
Originally from China, kumquats are now grown in China, Japan, and the U.S. About the size of a large olive, the citrus fruit looks like a miniature orange. They have a thin orange peel protecting the orange-like segmented pulp inside. The LiveStrong website remarks about the kumquat, "This sweet, tart fruit is a very good source of dietary fiber and vitamins C and A. Kumquats can be eaten fresh but are more commonly consumed pickled, canned or in preserves."
They add a new taste profile with other vegetables and can make even a small Cornish Game Hen seem full-bodied and huge.
Kumquats contain fiber, vitamins A and C, riboflavin, and calcium. The big payoff is with vitamin C. Each individual fruit contains approximately 14% of your daily suggested dietary needs. I don't know if the Linus Pauling Institute had these tiny orbs in mind, but I like to think so, when they wrote, "Even in small amounts vitamin C can protect indispensable molecules in the body, such as proteins, lipids (fats), carbohydrates, and nucleic acids (DNA and RNA), from damage by free radicals and reactive oxygen species that can be generated during normal metabolism as well as through exposure to toxins and pollutants (e.g., cigarette smoke)." The "small amounts" of kumquats can payoff big.
(You can watch the video at the bottom of the page for a very short course in How to Eat a Kumquat)
Besides eating kumquats individually, they are great additions to salads. I like to slice them thinly and toss them into the greens for color and flavor contrast. They are great cooked in chutney working the sweet and sour component all by themselves. And speaking of sweet and sour, they might make a nice garnish for a Disaronno Sour. I can imagine drinking the slightly sweet mixture and finishing with the kumquat . . . right before ordering a relaxing second. I also like them sliced up with chunky peanut butter on fresh bread or toasted whole grain bread like that baked by Roman Meal.
I believe Joe and his family moved, but I like to think of him delivering papers and popping kumquats in his mouth as he walks from house to house collecting for his new paper route.
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The following video will give you a very short course in How to Eat a Kumquat: