By Cindy Spence
Ask Greg Gude a question about kumquats, and you get a question in return: “How much time do you have?”
Gude could talk all day about kumquats, but this time of year he’s a bit pressed for time. Most of the kumquats that star in Dade City’s annual Kumquat Festival this Saturday are being supplied by Kumquat Growers Inc. And why not? It’s Florida’s capital of kumquats.
The kumquat used to have an image problem, Gude said, because people were not familiar with the oddly named fruit. The Kumquat Festival, however, has converted thousands of confused citrus consumers into big kumquat fans over the past 14 years. Still, Gude said, his company’s web site gets hundreds of thousands of clicks a year on the button “What is a kumquat?” What it is, kumquat fans say, is a taste sensation, with a sweet, edible peel and tart flesh.
“The last thing you taste is the oil. It finishes sweet,” Gude said, as if he is talking about a fine wine.
Chefs use the tiny, tangy fruit for an assortment of dishes from marmalades, vinaigrettes, barbecue sauces, marinades and the ever-popular kumquat pie.
One of the more requested recipes through the years is a 2003 best-of-show winner Janet Collura cooked up. Collura married into a citrus-growing family and uses a lot of citrus both in her home cooking and her catering business. She remembers eating wild kumquats growing along fence lines in the West Tampa of her childhood, and decided to try kumquats in a traditional Spanish dish.
Its rightful name is F.J.’s Favorite Kumquat Flan, and Collura likes to be sure people call it that because husband, F.J., played such a big role in the recipe’s development.
“He ate kumquat flan for four months,” Collura said.
The recipe has appeared in three or four cookbooks, but Collura has moved on to her next kumquat challenge.
“For a while now, I’ve been trying to figure out a way to do a version of Boston Cream Pie with kumquats,” Collura laughed.
Collura won’t be dishing up kumquat treats this year, but the festival promises plenty of kumquat delicacies and other activities.
The weekend begins early with open houses Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Kumquat Growers Inc., 31647 Gude Road. The festival runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and includes vendors, arts and crafts, a farmer’s market, a kids’ area, a fun walk and races, and plenty of kumquats. For more information, call the Dade City Chamber of Commerce at (352) 567-3769.
/this is the glance box—as needed
What is a kumquat?
Kumquats have been called the little gold gems of the citrus family. They are believed to be native to China and have a very distinctive taste. Kumquats are the only citrus fruit that can be eaten whole. The peel is the sweetest part and can be eaten separately. The pulp contains seeds and juice, which is sour. Together, the taste is sweet and sour. The seeds contain pectin, which can be removed by boiling for use in jams and jellies.
— Kumquat Growers Inc.
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.