The word KUMQUAT is Chinese for “Gold Orange” because of the color of the fruit.
Not just one
Kumquats have been called “the little gold gems of the citrus family”. They are believed to be native to China and were included in the genus Citrus until about 1915 when Dr. Walter T. Swingle set them apart in the genus Fortunella. (in honor of the British horticulturist, Robert Fortune who introduced the kumquat to Europe in 1846). “Cumquat” is the common British spelling of the name for the fruit. There are four types (species) of kumquats. They are the Hong Kong Wild (Fortunella hindsii), Marumi (Fortunella japonica), Meiwa (Fortunella crassifolia), and Nagami (Fortunella margarita). The two most common species of kumquats grown in the United States are the ‘Nagami’ and the ‘Meiwa’. Kumquats have a very distinctive taste. It is the only citrus fruit that can be eaten “skin and all.” The peel is the sweetest part and can be eaten separately. The pulp contains the seeds and juice, which is sour. When eaten together, you get a sweet and sour taste which is unlike anything else. The seeds, however, should not be eaten. They are similar to the seed of the orange and have a distinctive green color. The seeds also contain pectin, which can be removed by boiling for use in making jams and jellies.
The Nagami or Oval Kumquat (Fortunella.margarita) is the most common variety in the United States. It was introduced into Florida from Japan in 1885 and has been grown commercially in the “Kumquat Capitol,” Saint Joseph, Florida since 1895. The Nagami Kumquat is oval in shape, 3/4″ to 1″ in diameter and between 1″ to 2″ long. The tartness of the fruit makes them great for use in cooking and/or for marmalades and jellies. The tree is shrub like and is similar to an orange tree in appearance. It is a prolific bearer and very decorative because of the dark green leaves and brilliant orange fruit. The fruit lasts for several months on the tree in warm winter climates. The trees do very well when planted in the yard or in larger pots. They can withstand temperatures as low as 28 degrees and require about the same care as other citrus. They can be grown throughout Florida, but produce larger and juicier fruit when grown in the sandy soils on the hills of eastern Pasco County in central Florida. The kumquat tree is highly resistant and possibly immune to citrus canker.
The Meiwa or Large Round Kumquat (Fortunella.crassifolia) is grown extensively in China. In Japan, it is also called the ninpo or neiha kinkan. It was introduced into the United States from Japan in 1910, but is still somewhat rare here. Meiwa kumquats are more round in shape and are often referred to as “sweet kumquats”. They have few seeds and are best eaten whole. While they are very good to eat, it is not recommended that you use them for cooking or for marmalade as they lack the tartness of the Nagami kumquats. The Meiwa kumquats are not normally available commercially. However, we have had some requests for them in the last few years.
For information related to the nutritional value of kumquats: Click here!