Oranges, clementines, and tangerines are the traditional citrus fruits that everyone knows about and enjoys. There's another fruit, not as common, that belongs to the same family. Though it looks like a mini oblong orange, it certainly doesn't taste like its relative. But what is a kumquat and who even eats them? This article will answer all of your questions about the tastiest, tiniest citrus fruit that should be on your next grocery list.

What are Kumquats?

These peculiar fruits are native to China, although they can grow in warm climates like Florida and California. Their name comes from the Cantonese word "kam kwat," which means "golden orange." A practical name for a practical fruit.

Kumquats belong to the citrus family based on more than just their resemblance to oranges, clementines, and other fruits. However, some botanists classify kumquats in their own genus, Fortunella. 

Like many other citrus fruits, kumquats are in season during the winter. Their refreshing taste contrasts the doldrums of the dark and cold months, adding a bright and colorful spark to the days.

Different Shapes and Sizes

There are two main varieties of kumquats: Marumi and Nagami. Marumi is round, gold yellow, sweeter and juicer than Nagami, and not as common. Nagami look like an olive-sized oval orange and are much more common. Although slightly sour, they're still quite delicious.

Unlike its relatives, which must be peeled before eating, kumquats are entirely edible. The skin of the fruit is sweet, while the pulp is tart. After biting into the whole fruit, a shot of sourness is tempered by the sugary sweetness of the skin.

How to Use Kumquats

Kumquats are quite the versatile fruit, finding their way into sweet and savory dishes. Because of their tangy flavor, they are perfect for jams and marmalade, added to punch with other citrus fruits, and even used as a salsa for grilled chicken.

Now that you know all about the mysterious tiny fruit that resembles an oblong orange, don't be afraid to cook with it, or even just pick it off of a tree and eat it for a snack. When someone asks you "what is a kumquat," you'll surely convince them to try the delicious treat.