Wonderfully sweet and tangy kumquat fruit or cumquat (as the fruit generally recognized in Europe) is a winter/spring season delicacy. Although kumquats taste like citrus fruits, they are distinguished from them in a way that they can be eaten as a whole with the peel.
Botanically they belonged to the Rutaceae family; of the genus, Fortunella, named after botanist Robert fortune who brought them from China to Europe in the middle of the 19th century.
Kumquats are a small sized evergreen tree native to Southeastern parts of mountainous China. They now have grown for their delicious fruits and as ornament tree in many parts of the world including USA. A mature kumquat tree bears several hundred olive sized brilliant orange color fruits in winter. On the Interior, the fruit resembles tiny orange with juicy segments firmly adherent each other and with the rind. The pulp has 1-2 seeds placed centrally. The seeds are bitter in taste as in oranges and generally spit out.
There exist several varieties of kumquat; however, some 4 cultivars are grown widely for their fruits.
- Nagami kumquat (Fortunella margarita): The fruit is oval and is the most common varieties grown in USA. The fruit features smooth light yellow rind tarty flavor.
- Marumi kumquat (Fortunella japonica): The fruit is round and has distinctive sweet flavor.
- Meiwa kumquat (Fortunella crassifolia): It is round in shape and larger than other verities. It is popular in Japan as ninpo or neiha kinkan.
- Hong Kong Wild (Fortunella hindsii).
- Like citrus fruits, kumquats also low in calories. 100 g of fresh fruit provide only 71 calories. Nevertheless, they are incredibly rich sources of health benefiting dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins, and pigment anti-oxidants that contribute immensely to our health and wellness.
- Kumquats are eaten along with the peel, a unique feature that differentiates them from other citrus family fruits. The peel is rich in many essential oils, anti-oxidants, and fiber. 100 g whole kumquats provide 6.7 g or 17% of daily-recommended levels of fiber composed of tannins, pectin, hemi-cellulose, and other non-starch polysaccharides (NSP).
- Fresh kumquats are packed with numerous health benefiting poly-phenolic flavonoid anti-oxidantssuch as carotenes, lutein,zeaxanthin, tannins...etc. The kumquat peels is composed many important essential oils in it including limonene, pinene, α-bergamotene, caryophyllene, α-humulene, and α-muurolene. Together these compounds impart special citrus aroma to the fruit.
- Further, fresh fruits contain adequate levels of some of anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin A, C and E. Altogether these phyto-chemical compounds in kumquat fruit helps scavenge harmful oxygen derived free radicals from the body and thereby protect us from cancers, diabetes, degenerative diseases and infections.
- Like oranges, kumquats also very rich in vitamin C. 100 g fruit provides 47.9 or 73% of RDA (Recommended daily allowances). Vitamin-C is one of powerful natural anti-oxidant which has many essential biological roles like collagen synthesis and wound healing; anti-viral and anti-cancer activity; and helps prevent from neuro-degenerative diseases, arthritis, diabetes...etc by removing oxidant free-radicals from the body. Furthermore, vitamin C felicitates iron absorption in the food by reducing it from ferrous to ferric form in the stomach.
- Cumquats contain good levels of B-complex group of vitamins such as thiamin, niacin, pyridoxine, folates and pantothenic acid. These vitamins function as co-factors for metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
- In addition, they are modest sources minerals like calcium, copper, potassium, manganese, iron, selenium and zinc. 100 g of dried figs contain 640 mg of potassium, 162 mg of calcium, and 2.03 mg of iron. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure. Copper is required in the production of red blood cells. Iron is required for red blood cell formation as well for cellular oxidation.