Kumquats

Fortunella spp.

Herbs gallery - Kumquats

Also known as cumquat, the kumquat fruit is a member of genus Fortunella belonging to the Rutaceae. The plant has been named after the noted botanist Robert Fortune (genus Fortunella), who is responsible for bringing the fruits from China and introducing them to Europe sometime during the mid-19th century. Kumquats are seasonal citrus fruits available during winter/ spring. Generally referred to as cumquat in Europe, the flavour of this fruit is delicious and, at the same time, tangy.

Kumquats appear on evergreen shrubs or undersized trees that grow very sluggishly. Usually, a kumquat tree grows up to a height of anything between 2.5 meters and 4.5 meters (8 feet and 15 feet) and are thickly branched that may occasionally have little thorns. The leaves of kumquat shrubs or trees have a deep green glossy hue, while the blooms are white, very akin to those of other citrus flowers. The flowers may appear solitarily or come in clusters. They appear in the leaf axils. Subject to its size, a kumquat tree is able to produce several hundred or even several thousand fruits every year. It is interesting to note that the kumquat tree may also be hydrophytic, meaning it can also be grown in water. When the trees are grown in water, ripened fruits that drop from the trees can often be seen floating on the water close to the shore.

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While the flavour of kumquat fruits is similar to those belonging to the citrus category, they are different in a way as they can be eaten entirely, along with their peel.

Kumquats are undersized evergreen trees that have their origin in the mountains located in the south-eastern regions of China. These days, kumquats are cultivated in various regions of the globe, including the United States, for their appetizing citrus fruits as well as in the form of an ornamental plant. Usually, a mature kumquat tree produces several hundred/ thousand bright orange-hued fruits during the winter. The size of kumquat fruits is similar to that of olives. Inside, the kumquat fruit bears resemblance to small succulent segments (arils) similar to those found in oranges. These juicy arils are firmly attached to one another and also with the orange peel. The pulp contains one to two small seeds that are positioned centrally. As in the case of oranges, the seeds of kumquat fruits also have a bitter taste and people usually spit them out while consuming the juicy flesh of the fruit.

Currently, there are a number of kumquat cultivars. However, only four of these cultivars are grown extensively for their delectable fruits. These cultivars include Nagami kumquat (Fortunella margarita), Marumi kumquat (Fortunella japonica), Meiwa kumquat (Fortunella crassifolia) and Hong Kong Wild (Fortunella hindsii).

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Below is a brief description of each of these four kumquat cultivars.

Nagami kumquat
The fruit of this cultivar is oval shaped and is the most widespread that is grown in the United States. The fruit of Nagami kumquat has a smooth, pale yellow peel with a tart flavour.
Marumi kumquat
The fruit of this cultivar has a round shape and possesses a characteristic sweet flavour that is very pleasing.
Meiwa kumquat
This cultivar also produces round fruits, which are large compared to the other varieties of kumquat. It is a very popular citrus fruit in Japan, where it is known as ninpo or neiha kinkan.
Hong Kong Wild
The fruits of this kumquat cultivar are the smallest in size compared to those of the other varieties.

Health benefits

Kumquats offer a number of health benefits and accelerating wound healing is primary among them. These fruits are packed with vitamin C; an essential nutrient that is highly effective in healing wounds, in addition to preventing them from becoming infected. It has been established that vitamin C has several biological functions, including preventing cell damage.

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Any wound is certainly an injury and it normally involves splitting of tissues or also breaking of mucous membrane or the integument owing to external abuse by many physical agents, rather than diseases. There are various different types of injuries, including scrapes, scratches, cuts and also punctured skin.

Consumption of kumquats is helpful, especially in long-term condition, in treating all types of injuries. The presence of citric acid in these fruits is extremely beneficial for avoiding development of kidney stones. You can help to speed up the healing of wounds simply by eating kumquats every day.

Generally, kumquats are packed with vitamin C, which is a water soluble substance. This means that this nutrient can pass through the cell membranes effortlessly and provide the cells with a resourceful defence mechanism to combat various bacterial and viral agents. When your body has sufficient vitamin C in store, it becomes capable of preventing a wide variety of conditions, including fever, influenza, arthritis, rheumatism, cardiovascular diseases, strokes and osteoarthritis.

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Apart from vitamin C, kumquats are loaded with several essential flavonoid antioxidants such as carotenoids, lutein, and zeaxanthin in addition to tannins. Therefore, it is not surprising that kumquats also possess the ability to combat various carcinogenic agents. It has been found that flavonoids possess the ability to eliminate mutagens and carcinogens, thereby restricting the development of tumours. When you consume kumquats regularly, your body not only stores flavonoids, but also possesses sufficient other resources to effectively oppose attacks via contaminants and carcinogens in addition to several hazardous microbes.

Normally, even the peels of kumquat fruits are extremely delicious. In fact, eating the fruit without its peel means that you are losing plenty of vital oils that can otherwise be very beneficial for your body. Kumquat peels enclose several ingredients, including a-bergamotene, caryophylleneare, pinene, limonene and others. All these ingredients are loaded with nutrients and, hence, are beneficial for your health. These nutrients not only obstruct the development of carcinogenic cells, but also have a vital role in curing symptoms related to heartburns and also treating gallstones.

In addition, it has been established that kumquat fruits are excellent natural resources for essential minerals like copper, potassium and iron. All these minerals are necessary for the optimal functioning of our systems. While copper and iron ensure that the body has healthy as well as balanced red blood cells (erythrocytes), which carry oxygen to different parts of the body, potassium is a vital element for several body fluids, which are responsible for sustaining a healthy heart rate, in addition to regulating the levels of blood pressure.

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The leaves as well as the fruits of kumquat trees contain various natural acids and sugars. In addition, the leaves of this tree also enclose essential oil. Findings of several studies have revealed that kumquat fruits possess expectorant and anti-tussive properties. Both these attributes of the fruit are effective for treating sore throats.

It is advisable that people looking for means to slim down using natural products should certainly consider incorporating kumquats in their daily diet. Usually, kumquats do not contain cholesterol, sodium and fat and, hence, it is an excellent food for everyone who is trying to loose some extra flab. Nevertheless, one should always remember that if you desire to achieve your weight loss goals, it is also essential to undertake regular physical activities alongside eating foods that facilitate weight loss.

Consuming kumquats is an excellent way of obtaining dietary fiber, calcium, iron as well as vitamin C and vitamin A. Among these essential nutrients, vitamin C helps to combat the detrimental free radicals effectively. The oxidized free radicals are responsible for most of the damages caused to the cells of our body. Consequently, consuming kumquats in normal amounts may prove to be effective in cell regeneration, as the elements contained by this fruit prevent the free radicals from damaging the cells.

Kumquat fruits contain citric acid, which may be useful in preventing kidney stone formation as well as development. Recent researches on health benefits of kumquats showed that consuming lemonade daily augmented the color of urine, which actually is an indication of kidney stone avoidance. In effect, it has been found that the juice of lemonade is more effective compared to that of an orange.

Kumquat fruits are an excellent source of antioxidants like vitamins A and C. Consumption of one kumquat fruit supplies us with 73 percent of our daily recommended vitamin C intake. As this fruit is loaded with antioxidants, it helps to protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals. Findings of scientific studies undertaken in recent times show that consumption of foods that are loaded with antioxidants also retards the natural aging process.

While kumquats offer us a diverse range of health benefits, it is important that you always consume this fruit in small amounts. Eating kumquats in excessive amounts may lead to calcium depletion in the body. This may, in turn, result in bone ailments and dental rot.

Selection and storage

Being a winter/ spring seasonal fruit, kumquats are generally available during the period between November and June. The most common and popular varieties of kumquat found the United States include the "Nagami" and "Meiwa". In fact, Saint Joseph in Florida has been nicknamed as Florida's kumquat capital because the "Nagami" kumquats are extensively grown in this place.

When you are purchasing kumquats, it is advisable that you opt for the fruit that is smooth, firm and has bright orange color. In addition, ensure that the fruit is attached to the stem, as this denotes it is fresh. Stay away from buying unripe, green fruits as well as fruits with bruises and cuts on their surface. Damaged kumquat fruits should also be avoided.

Generally, kumquat fruits have a long shelf life. You can store these fruits at normal room temperature for anything between three to four days. On the other hand, the fruits remain viable for up to three weeks when stored in a refrigerator. You can store frozen kumquat purée for at least six months.

It has been found that kumquat fruits taste best when they are rolled out or squeezed gently prior to eating them. This process not only makes the fruit softer, but also amalgamates all the sweet ingredients present within its thin peel with the flavour of the flesh, which is basically tart. You should consume kumquat fruits in the same way as you would eat olives or grapes along with their peel.

Ripened kumquat fruits can be sliced and added to fruit salads or fruit bowls. In addition, kumquat fruits can also be attractive as garnishes on any platter.

You can also use ripened kumquat fruits to make wonderful marmalades or preserves. Alternatively, you can also use them for making candies. Different from various other citrus fruits such as Seville oranges, whose peel has a bitter taste, the rind of kumquat fruits is very sweet and, hence, extremely desirable.

In addition, kumquat purée is highly sought-after for preparing fruit concentrates, sauce, jams and jellies. Pureed kumquats may also be used to prepare fruit juice, pie, cakes, ice creams and many more edibles. Apart from these, ripened kumquat fruits are also used in the form of marinade and garnish in various dishes, especially sea-foods, lamb, and poultry preparations.

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