When it comes to citrus family, nothing beats kumquat – “the little golden gem of the citrus family”. Kumquat or cumquat is native to China and means kam kwat or golden orange in cantonese. It is popular by spanish name quinotos.
Kumquats somewhat looks like bonsoi orange tree, with shiny green leaves, scented flowers and small golden orange fruits. Kumquat fruits are small about 1-2 inch long. Smaller than lemon, the fruit can be eaten whole along with the peel. You would enjoy burst of tartness as you crush the juicy kumquat in your mouth, a flavor which lasts long and is felt even from lips and cheeks; while the outer rind compensates with a pleasant sweetness.
Kumquat plants are also grown as decorative plant. The flowers are white in color as they bloom during summer time. Each tree bears about 30-50 fruits each year. Four species of kumquats are mainly cultivated – Hong Kong Wild kumquats, Marumi kumquat, Meiwa kumquat and Nagami kumquat. Kumquat tree is slow growing and often grafted with other trees producing hybrid forms like Calamondin, citrangequat, limequat, mandarinquat, orangequat, procimequat, sunquat and yuzuquat.
Chinese believe kumquats are symbol of prosperity and it is a tradition to gift them at Lunar New Year. Kumquats are native to China and have a long history of cultivation, nearly 900 years. The plant first reached Europe in 19th Century and soon spread to North America. California, Texas and Florida are regions where it is cultivated. Today this plant has now spread to parts of South East Asia and Pacific region.
Kumquat Nutrition Facts
100 grams of Kumquat or 5 fruits offer just 70 calories, mostly coming from fruit sugars. It offers body with 6.5 grams of dietary fibers (adult requires roughly 25 gms of dietary fiber daily). Most of content of kumquat is water, nearly 80% by weight which makes it a hydrating food. It is rich in Vitamin C, and 6-7 fruits of Kumquat will meet your daily requirement of Vitamin C. It offers fair amount of Vitamin A, Riboflavin, Folate, Thiamin, Vitamin B6, Niacin and Pantothenic acid. In mineral content of Komquat, it mainly includes calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Copper and potassium.
Fresh kumquats fruit also supply to body with healthy phytochemcials including carotens, lutein, tannins and others. Some of they exhibit antioxidant property. Peel of kumquat bears essential oil including limonene, pinene, α-bergamotene, caryophyllene, α-humulene, and α-muurolene. They are responsible for the citrus flavor and aroma.
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Health benefits of eating Kumquats
Most citrus fruits are known for the rich supply of Vitamin C they offer. Vitamin is a very good antioxidant and anti-inflammatory and has tremendous benefits for our health. Along with Vitamin C and other nutrients, kumquats offer wide range of health benefits. Some of the health benefits of Kumquat fruit are discussed here.
Kumquat as an antioxidant
Vitamin C and Vitamin A are two nutrients which are known for their antioxidant action to the body. They act as scavengers and help eliminate free radicals before they can do any harm to the body. Free radicals harm body cells which may lead to their damage or death. Thus antioxidant action of kumquats helps in reducing oxidative stress on body organs and improves their functioning. Kumquats also offer various phytochemcials in small quantities which also have antioxidant action.
Kumquat as anti-inflammatory
In Taiwan, dried kumquats have been used in folk medicines to cure various inflammatory respiratory disorders. As an anti-inflammatory agent, it is helpful in reducing body inflammation and thus helpful in treating diseases of respiratory tract, asthma, bronchitis, cold, flu. Similarly it helps reduce swelling and pain of joints and helpful in arthritis. Phytonutrients in Kumquat further amplifies its anti-inflammatory action.
Kumquat for sore throat
It is a myth that sour things like kumquat can cause cough. In fact research points out to ability of Kumquat in suppressing cough and act as expectorant. It can be well used to cure sore throat. Just like orange, steamed kumquat with salt can be used as home remedy for cough. Just boil couple of kumquats in half a cup of salted water. Drink the water and eat the kumquats. In Chinese medicine, fresh kumquat tea is also believed to be home remedy for chest congestion. You can enjoy kumquat juice with honey to relieve sore throat.
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Kumqat heals wounds
With vitamin C, kumquat offers ability to enhance healing of wound. Vitamin C is helpful in regeneration of tissue. Eating kumquats along with other citrus fruits is a healthy way of recovering from injury and wounds. Kumquats also offer protection from pathogen from its immunity boosting ability.
Kumquat and Cancer cure
Research is very active in isolating bioactive chemicals in kumquat and other fruits which have ability to cure cancer. Various phytochemicals in kumquats have been found independently useful in treating cancer and inhibiting growth of cancer cells. Vitamin C from Kumquat is very good detoxifying agent and helps in removal of harmful toxins from body including carcinogenic lead. Kumquat is excellent antioxidant and prevents body cells from damage and undergoing mutation which may lead to cancer. Lab studies with kumquat oil have showed its ability to inhibit growth of prostate cancer cells. More studies are expected to highlight cancer protective properties of kumquat.
Benefits of Kumquat peel
Apart from offering dietary fibers, kumquat peel contain good amount of essential oil and phytochemicals. We already read about anti-cancer properties of kumquat volatile oil found in kumquat. Kumquat peels have been used in treating gall bladder stones and relieve symptoms of heartburn. Liminoids are group of phytochemicals found in kumquat peel have shown ability to reduce cholesterol in body. Above all, kumquat peel tastes great!
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Kumquat and weight loss
A well hydrating, juicy, rich in Vitamin C, low calorie and high fibers make kumquat a good choice for your diet food. Above all it offers negligible amount of sodium and fat, which aids in losing weight.
Obesity is often a result of metabolic disorders. A study conducted to investigate anti-metabolic disorder effects of kumquat fruit extract showed positive results. This extract was able to reduce blood sugar and lipids and fat accumulation in liver of obese rats. Flavonoids and polyphenols including neoeriocitrin, naringin, hesperidin and neohesperidin have been found in kumquat fruit extract responsible for such benefits. The study has pointed out to its use as dietary supplement for obesity and related disorders.
Kumquat reduces risk of kidney stones
Citric acid present in citrus fruit including kumquat have demonstrated benefits in avoiding kidney stone and its growth. It is found to be protective in nature. Adding kumquats to your diet are good way of increasing water and citric acid intake in your body which may eliminate risk of kidney stones. However scientific evidence is yet to be established about benefits of kumquat in treating kidney stones.
Kumquat for healthy heart
With its antioxidant properties it helps in protecting heart tissues from oxidative stress and thus reduce risk of heart disorders. Kumquat peel has nutrients which offer ability to reduce cholesterol in body. Vitamin C and Potassium in Kumquat helps in regulating blood pressure. Eating kumquat is good way of checking hypertension. Kumquat offers body with cardioprotective benefits and reduces risk of heart diseases.
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Kumquat for dental care
Kumquat helps in well being of your gums and teeth. It offers protection from inflammation and bacteria. It is believed that kumquat can keep way bad breath. Vitamin C is required for the synthesis of collagen in body which is required for healthy gums. Kumquats can help prevent gum diseases like scurvy and bleeding of gums.
Boost immunity with kumquats
Various nutrients play important role in increasing body immunity. Vitamin C present in kumquat in adequate quantity is helpful boosting immune system. It has showed good results in preventing seasonal diseases like cold and cough. It prepares body against infection and keep pathogens away. With its antioxidant action, it protects white blood cells in our body from being destroyed by free radicals and thus increases immune function.
Kumquat benefits to skin and hair
Vitamin C present in Kumquat is vital nutrient for our skin. It is required for synthesis of collagen which is building block of our skin. It protects our skin from damage by Ultraviolet light, pollution and other oxidizing agents. It keeps away signs of aging including wrinkles or dark spots. Kumquat essential oil ha antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties and used in skin care formulations. Studies have pointed out to use of kumquat fruit extract in cosmetic applications. Kumquat Fragrance Oil present in kumquat peel is believed to fortify hair and promote its growth. Kumquat oil along with carrier oil is used in hair care formulations. Try out some homemade kumquat Face Mask Recipes –
- Shade dry kumquat slices. Once dried, make powder and store in refrigerator. Along with honey, it forms a good face mask. It shall keep acne away and offer good looking bright skin.
- Kumquat powder, along with milk or coconut oil, acts as good moisturizing face mask.
- Along with rice powder and honey, kumquat powder makes good facial scrub.
Kumquat and preventing diabetes
Kumquat protects body from oxidative stress which may lead to diabetes type 2 disorder. Further high fiber content in kumquat helps in removal of toxin, cholesterol and triglycerides from body. It reduces glycemic index of food and inhibits increase in blood sugar levels. Vitamin C adequately present in kumquat is found helpful in diabetes.
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Kumquat to reduce stress and alleviate mood
Vitamin C helps in production of neurotransmitters which affects mood. It is found helpful in reducing stress. Try eating kumquat before exams or other stressful activity, you would notice its benefits.
Kumquats treating allergies
Kumquat contains nutrients including Vitamin C which acts as antihistamines and reduces allergic symptoms in body. Kumquats have been long used in relieving seasonal allergic disorders including cold and cough.
Any side effects of Kumquat?
Kumquat does not offer any side effect, however large consumption of kumquat or its extract may lead to kidney disorders and other symptoms. People allergic to citrus food may show allergies due to presence of profiling protein present in kumquat and other citrus foods.
Healthy ways to eat Kumquat
Best way is to eat whole kumquat raw or use them in various recipes, salads, desserts and juices. Rolling them between the fingers helps in releasing the essential oil from the rind and improves its flavor. More you chew kumquat sweeter it tastes.
How to store kumquat
Shelf life of Kumquats is not very long. Refrigeration increases its shelf life. Kumquats can be preserved with sugar, salt or honey in form of kumquat marmalade, Kumquat Chutney or kumquat puree. Cut slices of fruit and store it in jar of sugar of salt. Over period, juice mixes with salt or sugar forming marmalades or salted kumquat. Alternately, frozen kumquat puree can be stored for months and be used for making other recipes.
Recipes with kumquats
Its unique taste with sweet tartness makes it tasty ingredient for various recipes. Kumquat jelly, kumqart jam or kumquat chutney can be enjoyed with other dishes. Cakes, pies and dessert with kumquat looks and tastes equally good. Slice of kumquat added to your green salad not only complements with color but also with taste. Try making colorful fruit salad with kiwi, banana, apple, grapes and kumquat. Fresh kumquats are often used in baked recipes including bread, cakes and pies for color and flavor. In Taiwan and parts of Southeast Asia, kumquat tea is also popular. Mứt quất is candied form of Kumquat fruit in Vietnam. Flavoring cocktail, alcoholic beverages using kumquat is also common. You would find kumquat martini, kumquat vodka, kumquat wine, kumquat brandy or other kumquat liqueur available in menu. Kumquat seeds which are bitter are often discrade while making kumquat recipes. Keep exploring kumquat recipe here.
Kumquat marmalade recipe
Wash around half kg of medium sized whole kumquats and the orange. Slice the kumquat and orange uniformly with sharp knife. Transfer any juice and the slices to a large pot and add twice the amount of water. Let the mixture stay overnight. Bring this mixture to boil at high heat and then allow it to simmer till slices become tender and translucent. For every 4 cup of this solution, add 3cups of sugar. Add juice of 2 lemons and again bring this mixture to boil. Stir continuously till the sugar is dissolved. Now once you find the mixture is becoming jelly like stop heating. Transfer this hot marmalade to sterilized jars and tightly seal the jars. Within couple of weeks the marmalade will settle in jelly form. This kumquat marmalade can be stored for nearly a year. Kumquat jam recipe is very similar.
Kumquat Chutney Recipe – Slice kumquats and blend it along with garlic, ginger, honey and pepper to make thick paste. This kumquat chutney can be used a marinate or side dish for fish, chicken or meat.
Kumquats are among the few citrus fruit which can be eaten whole along with its sweet peel. It offers wide benefits due to presence of Vitamin C, dietary fibers and rich phytonutrients. While research is active in areas of its health benefits, you enjoy adding this fruit in your diet. We shall come back soon with more kumquat dessert recipes.Image Credits: Flickr - Hedi, Flickr - Silke Gerstenkorn, Flickr - rcakewalk