Meiwa and Nagami Kumquats On Special This Week
One of my favorite fruits this winter is the versatile tiny Kumquat. It is unique in its size, averaging about an inch long and in its flavor, where the sweetness comes from the rind instead of the flesh. You don’t have to peel them and they are small enough to pop in your mouth. I also love to slice them up and mix them in a salad, salsa or a smoothie.
The oval shaped Nagami is the most commonly sold with a sweet rind and very tart flesh. You are in for a powerful sensory experience as the ZING of the sourness hits your taste buds and your mouth puckers up. The second most commonly seen variety is the round shaped Meiwa with a spicy sweet rind and flesh. You may find a few seeds inside but they are edible. They have been described as “flavor bombs” and you will understand what I mean when you taste one. The Meiwa is my personal favorite and if I have a handful in front of me I will eat them one by one until suddenly they are gone.
Kumquats are a unique member of the citrus family and are thought to come from China. The name comes from the Chinese words chin kan meaning golden orange. Kumquats arrived in California about 1880 but starting in the late 1960s, increased Asian immigration to California spurred demand and prices for kumquats. Today, California has 133 acres of kumquats.
Kumquats can be hard to find at times but worth searching out. California leads the nation in production. Northern San Diego county is where many farms focus on specialty crops such as kumquats but they can be found growing as far north as Placerville, north of Sacramento.
George Cunningham from Cunningham Organic Farm grows kumquatsalong with avocados, grapefruit, guavas, cherimoyas, lemons, limes, macadamias, oranges, passionfruit, persimmons and tangerines. Cunningham Organic Farm is located in a secluded valley next to the Cleveland National Forest and midway between Los Angeles and San Diego. George and Gale Cunningham moved with their family to the beautiful DeLuz Canyon, north of Fallbrook, in 1974. They set out to become farmers. Not being farm-savvy enough to grow with conventional methods of farming (using chemicals and pesticides), they decided to grow organically (before the time when that eco-friendly word was heavily used). It was their personal endeavor at that time, and remains so today, to grow the best-tasting, most nutritious food available anywhere and it’s all natural. Kumquat trees are very hardy with a prolonged dormancy stage and almost never grow more than 12 feet. They require a warm summer and can withstand temperatures down to 14 degrees. The trees don’t start growing until there is warm weather and they don’t blossom until midsummer. If you can grow Meyer lemons in your backyard then a kumquat tree would most likely grow well. They are in season from November to June.
Kumquats provide potassium, vitamins A and C and are a good source of fiber. As a reminder, let all citrus come to room temperature first and then roll it on the counter a few times to bring out the full essence of the fruit and to yield more juice.