What do Kumquats Taste Like?

Probably the simplest way to narrow down what a fruit tastes like is to start with the question, is it sweet or is it sour? That can be a bit problematic when talking about kumquats…but before we get into what do kumquat taste like, it might be better to first explain what kumquats are.

“What exactly is a kumquat, anyway?”

Kumquats are small, oval, thick-skinned citrus fruits. They’re popular in many citrus dishes, including marmalades, cocktails and even liqueurs. In Cantonese, “kumquat” translates into “golden orange” or “golden tangerine.” Kumquat trees are native to Southeast Asia, where the meiwa kumquat and other kumquat varieties have been dietary staples for centuries.

Kumquat trees were first brought to North America during the mid-19th Century. While they can survive at lower temperatures more than many citrus trees, kumquat trees produce larger and sweeter fruits in warm climates. Thus, the ideal outdoor growing environment for a kumquat tree is in Florida and California. 

Now, on to that unique kumquat taste…

“Are kumquats sour or are they sweet?”

The reason it can be difficult to describe what kumquats taste like is because, depending on how you eat them, they’re both sweet and sour – that is, the flesh and juice are very, very sour (lip-puckeringly so), but the skin is very sweet. And before you say, “what does it matter what the skin tastes like?” you need to realize we’ve come to one of the most interesting things about kumquats – people generally eat them whole, skin and all, which means the sweet skin balances out the tart flesh and juice for a fresh, tangy taste treat that’s unlike any other.

“Where can I try a kumquat?”

Depending on where you live, it can be a bit tricky to find kumquats. When they’re in season you’re most likely to find them in an Asian grocery store, or stores located in an area with a larger Asian population. You can also grow your own kumquat tree indoors.

“How do I go about growing kumquats indoors?”

You can grow your own kumquats at home relatively easily by getting a dwarf kumquat tree. Citrus.com offers a Meiwa Kumquat Tree for sale, along with other popular kumquat varieties such as the Nagami and selected hybrids. The Meiwa kumquat tree height can be kept at 5-6 feet tall when grown in a pot and pruned once a year, and in addition to providing delicious fruit, it smells wonderful and makes an attractive accent to a sunny location.

“When do kumquats fruit?”

Depending on the variety of the kumquats tree, you can expect to see fruit from November to March (with February and March being the peak months). It takes about a month for the fruit to change from green to orange (you’ll want to wait until it has reached a bright orange color before you pick it).

“How fast do kumquat trees grow?”

The great thing about kumquat trees is that they’re great for container gardening beginners, being easy to grow and requiring little maintenance. If you pot them up you’ll need to get a citrus or succulent formula soil, and you’ll also want to prune them regularly (if infrequently) to ensure they stay small enough to keep indoors and stay looking nice. You can do that by pinching back the growing tips and shoots to make your tree full and bushy and to establish a sturdy, well-branched structure for future fruiting.  (Just be sure to prune top branches that are too tall while leaving the inner and side growth s you don’t lose the following years’ fruit yield).