Cumquat for Healthy Snack
by Greg Hayes
One of the most cost-effective, healthy ways for saving money and losing weight is eating regionally grown fresh fruits and vegetables, usually from your local farmer’s market. By limiting yourself to regionally grown, you guarantee you are only eating foods in season. It generally guarantees the healthiest foods, at the lowest cost. Fortunately, many farmer’s markets have expanded beyond the basic vegetables to give their clients a wide variety of unique foods to choose from. I recently encountered cumquats at a local market, and I had to check them out.
Cumquats (also spelled as kumquats), which are native to China, were heavily cultivated by the Japanese. Imported to Europe in the mid-1800’s, they rapidly made their way to the United States. Although it is a subject of some debate, the cumquat is generally considered a member of the citrus family, and yields a fruit that has an appearance nearing that of an orange, albeit slightly smaller and more oblong.
Cumquats can be eaten raw, but unlike most citrus fruits, it’s recommended that the entire fruit be eaten; rind and all. Cumquat rinds are extremely sweet, while the pulp of the fruit has a strong sour flavor, making for a culinary contrast you’re not likely to soon forget. A thick rind and firm texture guarantees they travel well, and they are resistant to bruising. This makes them an ideal healthy snack.
A single cumquat contains about 19 calories and one gram of fiber, making it a nice sweet and sour treat that is a great alternative to the candy many would reach for to stave off a craving for sweets. Like most citrus fruits, cumquats are high in vitamin C, but are also a good source of vitamin A, calcium and potassium. Eating the rind keeps the fiber content up as well.
In addition to eating cumquats whole, they are often served candied. Making candied cumquats is very straightforward, and can be done in your kitchen in about 15 minutes. Most recipes start with heating a 2:1 mixture of sugar:water to boiling, then adding in several quartered cumquats. Cook for 10-minutes and scoop out the candied goodness. Easy.
To make it a healthy snack, you can replace sugar with agave or raw honey. You can use a little bit of agave because agave can be sweet even in small amounts. Honey is great as well because it has some medicinal properties.
Stevia can be used if you prefer it instead. Since the solution of stevia and water alone won’t thicken much, you can add a little corn starch. Any natural sweetener that enhances the flavor already present in the rind and that thickens the mixture will work.
Cumquats can also be used in marmalade, cakes, cookies, and jams. You can also make cumquat puree, which can be kept frozen for up to 6 months. Pulled out at need, it makes a wonderful topping for ham, duck, and other dark meats.
You can also grow your own cumquat tree in your backyard. Online stores such as Amazon sell the plant at an affordable price.
One of the most difficult parts of maintaining a healthy lifestyle is avoiding boredom at the dinner table. Finding ways to incorporate new, unique foods into your diet goes a long way toward solving this problem. Cumquats make a sweet, healthy snack that is a great alternative to the packaged foods that are a staple of the average American diet.