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Friday, June 17, 2005

All about Kumquats

Meet the latest object of my affection. Cute aren't they? But wait until you bite into them! They bite right back. If you like the tang of lemons and limes and sometimes find the sweetness of oranges a little cloying you're going to love kumquats. Anyway even if citrus isn't your thing, just saying "kumquat" is fun.

These little gems are often mistakenly called citrus fruit. But kumquats belong to the genus Fortunella named after plant collector Robert Fortune and are native to China. They are unusual in that the skin is sweet and the flesh is sour. Like citrus fruit they are a good source of vitamin C, they also contain vitamin A and potassium. Because they are so small you can eat them whole, though you may encounter a couple of seeds.

Many recipes call for scooping out the flesh and using only the skin. The skins are most often candied, but there's a lot more you can do with the whole fruit. Kumquats are good cooked or raw. Just be sure to seed them if you are going to puree them. Depending on where you live your kumquats may come from Florida or California. The season runs from December through June so enjoy them while you can.

Here is a list of things to do with kumquats:

* Slice thinly and add to endive salad

* Add to a Moroccan style tagine

* Use puree to flavor tarts or mousses

* Make a sorbet

* Serve with a cheese plate

* Chop and make a chutney or raw relish

* Use in marmalade

* Decorate cakes with thin slices

* Puree with garlic, scallion and honey to marinate meat

* Skewer on fruit kebabs

* Eat them out of hand