Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Pick of the Week: Kumquats

How can anyone be afraid of a food? But when confronted with a kumquat, most adults I know clamp their mouths closed and refuse to pop one in their mouth.

Is it because most Americans have no idea what to do with them? It can't be their shape: They look like mini football-shaped oranges, so vibrant in color, so cute. Is it because some might try to peel them -- an impossibility -- and then get frustrated?

Whatever has been keeping you from trying this wonderful fruit, banish it from your thoughts. Kumquats are explosions of flavor, and one of the easiest fruits to eat: Pop one in your mouth, skin and all. You want the skin, because that's the sweet part. The small amount of flesh inside is tart, but it's the contrast of flavors that makes kumquats so special. First you get the sweet, then the bitter, then a mix of sweet and bitter. There are a few tiny seeds, but they are so soft, you just eat them along with the fruit. There really is nothing else like them.

Choose bright orange kumquats, free of bruises, wrinkles or mold.

Store kumquats at room temperature up to a week. They will keep in the fridge, in a plastic bag, for about three weeks to a month.

Please try eating one as is, or slice them into salads for a winter pick-me-up. Or try poaching the fruit and serving them alongside roasted chicken or turkey. The following recipe is another one of my mom's: She would pair poached kumquats with two types of cookies, shortbread and Pepperidge Farm's Milano's. Yum! Poached kumquats keep in the refrigerator for months, making it the perfect antidote to spice up winter's chilly weather. You might also try slicing them and serving over vanilla ice cream or chocolate sorbet.

1 basket of kumquats
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup water
1 cinnamon stick
  • Wash kumquats, removing any stems and leaves that may be attached.
  • Combine honey and water in a heavy saucepan and bring slowly to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer.
  • Add cinnamon and kumquats and simmer about 10 minutes, stirring from time to time. You want the kumquats to still be firm. Let cool and store in the refrigerator in the cooking syrup.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Val, for helping me overcome my kumquat-phobia. I'll be poaching tonight!