You may not know a lot about kumquats, but in these parts, the tiny citrus fruit is so popular, it even has an annual festival dedicated to it.
This year, the festivities, which usually happen in downtown Dade City at the end of January, have been postponed until March 27.
Event organizers made the move in an abundance of caution, to keep people safe during this time of COVID-19.
That doesn’t mean you have to wait to learn more about the circular-shaped fruit, or wait for the popular pie that is sold at the festival each year. You can make your own kumquat pie.
So, here are a few facts about this tiny fruit called the kumquat.
The fruit is small and much like grapes, you can eat a handful in a single sitting.
Kumquats are native to China, where the name means “golden orange.”
In the United States, the Nagami variety is the most common, and the fruit is primarily grown in Florida, Louisiana, Alabama and California, according to Farmers Almanac.
They are a healthy choice.
Like all citrus, kumquats are high in vitamin C. They contain several B vitamins and they contain minerals, including calcium, magnesium and zinc. In five kumquats, there’s about 6.5 grams of fiber.
They also have antioxidants — which are important for healthy aging, and to help prevent cancer.
Be sure to eat the peels, which are edible, because that’s where you’ll find the antioxidants and the fruit’s anti-inflammatory properties.
The kumquat is the only citrus fruit with an edible peel.
And, the peel tastes sweet, while the seeds and juice taste sour.
If you don’t like the sweet-and-sour combination, you can separate the peel from the pulp.
You might have heard that it tastes best if you gently roll the fruit between your fingers before eating the fruit, to release the essential oils.
Kumquats also are high in water content, making them hydrating and refreshing.
Between the water and fiber, they are quite filling while also low in calories — just 71 calories in a serving of five kumquats.
They’re a great go-to snack to have around the home or in your office, if you’re trying to lose or maintain weight.
Additionally, preliminary research on mice has shown that they help prevent weight gain, and helped lower fasting blood sugar, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and triglycerides, and reduced the growth of fat cells.
Plant compounds from kumquats also are being used to study obesity in mice.
In a study where mice were given a high-fat diet, they gained more weight after eight weeks than the mice given a high-fat diet in addition to the kumquat extract.
Of course, further research on this is needed to see the impacts on humans.
Kumquats can be refrigerated for up to two weeks, or left at room temperature for a few days.
Besides being healthy, they’re versatile.
They can be used in sauces for meat dishes, can be added to stuffing, can be baked into breads, and of course, can be used to make a kumquat pie, which is usually a staple at the Kumquat Festival.
If you can’t find them at the store, you can go to KumquatGrowers.com (based in Dade City), and they can ship some to you during the season (November through March).
You can also order jams, jellies, sauces, salad dressings, salsas and butter, all made with kumquat.
If you don’t want to wait until this year’s kumquat festival, you can make your own pie.
By Shari Bresin
Shari Bresin is the Family & Consumer Science agent for the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Cooperative Extension Pasco County.
Kumquat Pie (Recipe courtesy of TheSpruceEats.com)
- 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2/3 cup pureed kumquats (wash, cut in half, and remove seeds to puree)
- 8-ounce container whipped topping, defrosted
- 9-inch pre-baked pie shell or graham cracker crust
Combine sweetened condensed milk and lemon juice in a large bowl, and beat on medium speed until it starts to thicken, approximately 2 minutes to 3 minutes.
Add kumquat puree and beat on low speed until combined, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as necessary.
Fold in whipped topping and pour mixture into prepared crust.
Refrigerate pie overnight, or for at least 2 hours, before serving.
Published January 27, 2021
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