What Is a Kumquat (and How Do You Eat One)?

What is a kumquat? It's an adorable citrus fruit that's great for snacking and cooking—and it shouldn't be overlooked.

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When strolling through the produce section, have you found yourself looking at those cute little kumquats but wondering what they are and what to do with them? These small exotic fruits have a unique tart and tangy flavor, and can be eaten by themselves or used in a variety of citrus recipes.

What Is a Kumquat?

Kumquats Growing On TreeRiccardo Botta/Getty Images

Kumquats are small citrus fruits that are orange in color and about the size of a grape or an olive. Although they might look like tiny oranges, their flavor is quite different, and the entire fruit, including the peel and seeds, is edible. The flesh of a kumquat is sour and tangy, but the peel is surprisingly sweet, almost like candy.

Most varieties of kumquats can’t withstand frost, so you’ll find them growing in warmer climates all over the world, from Japan and the Philippines in Asia to California and Florida in the United States. You can also buy a kumquat tree to grow indoors.

Look for kumquats in your local grocery store from November through April, with peak season being February and March.

Are Kumquats Good for You?

One kumquat has just 13 calories, but can provide up to 14% of your daily recommended dose of vitamin C. They’re also a good source of vitamin A, calcium and manganese. Because you’re eating the skin and the seeds, kumquats have more soluble fiber than a typical piece of fresh fruit, which can help lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Kumquats are 80% water, which makes them very hydrating and a great choice for snacking on a warm day.

How Do You Eat a Kumquat?

Granddaughter tasting kumquat by grandmother in gardenEriko Koga/Getty Images

You can eat kumquats whole, like you would grapes or kiwi berries. There’s no need to cut them in half unless you want to. Don’t peel them, as the skin is very sweet and perhaps the tastiest part! If you don’t care for the juice, which is on the sour side, just squeeze it out, then eat the rest. Since the skin is edible, be sure to wash the fruit under cool running water before eating.

Tips for Buying and Eating Kumquats

Look for kumquats that are bright orange in color. They should be firm to the touch and have fragrant skin with no soft spots.

Kumquats can be eaten on their own as a healthy snack, added to a holiday cheese board or used in all kinds of recipes. Just think of them as another form of citrus and use them as you would oranges or lemons. The seeds have a lot of pectin, so this fruit makes a tasty Kumquat Marmalade. Serve refreshing Kumquat Margaritas at a party.

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Debra Cummings
A veteran of the food and travel industries, Debra has worked behind the seafood counter, waited tables in all sorts of restaurants, and spent time as a travel agent. She now writes about food and travel, and creates recipes inspired by tasty destinations. She wants to know everything you ate on your last vacation.