What Are Kumquats? And What To Do With Kumquats

The kumquat (sometimes spelt ‘cumquat’) is an asian citrus fruit with a sweet (easily damaged) skin and bitter, tart flavour whose name roughly translated means ‘gold orange’ in Mandarin. They are the size of a large gooseberry. Their growing season is November to March. They keep quite a long time – couple of weeks in the fridge. Use the whole fruit, skin included, flick out any easily accessible pips.


  • slice finely and add to salads for interest and colour – a salad of endives, parsley and mint with a lemon-based dressing (so, lots of tart and bitter) is good after or with a stew such as the Welsh cawl, or Irish stew
  • use with chicken – see recipe
  • incorporate into a lemon and coconut milk glaze on sesame shortbread
  • with dates and cranberries in a chutney; or as Padma Lakshmi describes in her memoir, Love, Loss and What We Ate, with ginger.
  • stew with onions and sherry vinegar and serve as a bed for cod – highly recommended
  • the Taiwanese add them to their tea
  • the Cubans stew with ginger and use to top a bitter chocolate cheesecake. Stew roughly chopped kumquats in their same weight each of already boiling sugar and water. Grate in ginger to taste. Simmer for a quarter of an hour or so.
  • some people boil them and use them to relieve sore throats
  •  Kylee Newton in her book, The Modern Preserver, suggests making candied kumquats with half the weight of 500g of kumquats in sugar together with a cinnamon stick, a star anise and a couple of tablespoons of red vermouth. Cut the thinnest possible slice off the stem end of each kumquat, put in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, simmer five minutes and drain. Repeat this process five times, the last time retaining 160 ml/⅔ cup of liquid. Add the sugar and spices to the liquid and simmer until the sugar has dissolved. Add the kumquats and vermouth. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 30 minutes. Store in sterilised jars. Drop into a glass of prosecco, or half dip in melted dark chocolate.
  • Another idea from the same book is to make preserved lemons, only with kumquats. Take 900g of kumquats, slice off the stalk end and cut in half vertically. Put them in a bowl with 4 tbsps sea salt, 1 tbsp black pepper (cracked in a mortar and pestle), a teaspoon of ground cinnamon, the zest of about four lemons (save the juice), and 1½ tbsps golden caster sugar. Mix well. Put into sterilised jars. Fill each jar up to about three-quarters with lemon juice. Shake the jars every day for about two weeks (or until you notice them starting to break up). Store in the fridge. Add to salads and tagines.

… and that is about it!


kumquat or cumquat
kumquats – unusual part of a sublime trinity of citrus, honey and chicken
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I’ve never had one of these, must give them a try.


they’re not that easy to find, but if you do manage to track some down i’ll be interested to know what you think. sd

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