Tiny, bitter-flavored citrus, the cumquat derives its name from its country of origin, China, where it was called Kam Kwat in Cantonese and Kyem kywit  in Middle Chinese.  Both means "golden orange".  It has been cultivated for thousands of years in China and neighboring Japan. The cumquat was introduced to Europe in the middle of the 19th century by Robert Fortune who collected plants for the London Horticultural Society.  In gratitude, the fruit's genus "Fortunella" was named after him.

The cumquat tree is small and very attractive, with glossy, dark green leaves and yellow or orange fruit. It grows well in a pot. Most varieties of cumquat are too bitter to eat raw, although some people do develop a taste for them.

The fruit is slow to ripen, changing from green to a brilliant orange towards the end of summer. It usually develops to the size of a large olive but is round in shape. 
There are several varieties of cumquat, all with some claim to the citrus family.  Cumquats have been crossed with well established citrus fruits to give us such novelties as limequats, lemonquats and orangequats.

The sweet varieties of cumquat may be eaten raw, skin and all. However, if it is far too sour to consume this way, the  most popular way to use these little fruits is in jams and marmalades. 

They may also be treated as a savory and chopped and added to rice dishes and green salads or used as a garnish. They add a pleasant sweet-sour taste to game and duck dishes and will lend that extra zest to many dishes.



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