The majority of kumquat varieties mature from winter through spring. Kumquat hybrids may mature slightly later, and continue maturing even into early summer. Here are five tips to help you to get the most out of your harvest:
Kumquats do not ripen after being picked; they must remain on the tree to develop sweetness, which can take months. Sample a fruit or two to judge ripeness, as rind color may vary according to temperature, and try again 1 to 2 weeks later if kumquats aren’t ripe.
Once ripe, kumquats generally hold well for months on trees, and even up to a year, and are better stored on the tree than in a refrigerator. When kumquats become overripe they soften, begin to rot on the tree, and/or fall from the tree. With a larger surface area of skin, kumquats do not store as well as other citrus fruits in the refrigerator. In a refrigerator, kumquats can last for up to 2 weeks under ideal storage conditions of 38° to 46° F with 90% to 95% humidity. If storing citrus in your refrigerator, do so in a humid produce drawer with humidity turned up to full, or with an open bowl of water, and/or in cloth or paper bags to reduce drying. They can be stored at room temperature for a day or two without losing quality.
To produce the sweetest and most-flavorful fruit, discontinue watering citrus 2 to 5 weeks before harvest, which will concentrate sugars and flavor proportionately to water in fruit cells.
Kumquats are most commonly eaten fresh, and can be thinly sliced into salads or other dishes. They are popular in marmalades, jellies, cocktails, or other specialty desert items. They can be preserved in honey or sugar, and even brandy and rum.
Rolling citrus fruit firmly between your hands before eating will rupture oil glands, letting more essential oils into the fruit, and may improve flavor and availability of vitamin C. While kumquats are eaten whole, this practice allows sugar to be released from the peel into the flesh, potentially resulting in a less drastic contrast between sweet and sour.
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