7 Curious Kumquat Benefits + Nutrition & How To Eat It

Kumquats are an oddball among citrus fruits. In addition to their small size, their peel is edible and actually much sweeter than the pulp. They’re filled with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory compounds that offer a range of potential benefits. Find out how to add them to your diet or use their essential oil.

What Is a Kumquat?

Kumquats are a group of citrus trees that produce small, round or oval-shaped fruits. Their name comes from the Cantonese word ‘kamkwat’ (金橘), which means “golden orange/tangerine”. Since the peel is thin and sweeter than the pulp, kumquats are usually eaten whole as opposed to other citrus fruits [1+].

Kumquats are native to China, from where they were introduced to Japan, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia centuries ago. Today, kumquats are also cultivated in warm regions of Europe, the US (especially California and Florida), South America, Australia, South Africa, and India. They are grown for their fruits or as decorative trees [2+, 3+].

These peculiar fruits were once classified under their own genus (Fortunella). They have since been merged into the same genus as oranges, lemons, mandarins, and grapefruits (Citrus) within the Rutaceae family. There are four main cultivated kumquat species [4+, 5+, 6+]:

Of these, only oval kumquat is normally grown in Western countries.

Kumquats are typically eaten raw, pickled or candied, and used to make marmalades, liquors, and sauces. In traditional herbal medicine, they are used for sore throat, coughing, inflammation, and protecting the blood vessels. Most of these traditional uses remain, however, scientifically unproven [7+, 8+, 2+, 9].

Fruit Taste & Size

Kumquats have a typical citrus flavor. The peel is sweet, fleshy, and very aromatic due to the presence of essential oils and flavonoids. In turn, the pulp is juicy and very sour [10+, 11+, 12+].

Kumquats are among the smallest citrus fruits (together with calamondins). They range from the approximate size of a pea (C. hindsii) to 1.5 inches broad (C. crassifolia). The species usually grown in Western countries (C. margarita) is