Keep chewing till it tastes sweet: Kumquats are the Harvest of the Month

Sierra Montessori students trying the kumquats, the Harvest of the Month for March, 2017

21,960.  That’s how many kumquats found their way into over 300 Nevada County classrooms earlier this month.  Small, shiny, sweet and tart- kumquats are a lesson in patience, bravery and tastiness.   Both common and exotic- the kumquat is March’s Harvest of the Month.  If you’re like many people- you’ve never had one.  Don’t feel bad- most of the 7,000 students who tasted them this month hadn’t tried a kumquat either.   But once they tried it, they were sold!  Before the tasting, only 10% of students claimed to like the fruit- and after tasting it, a whopping 70% were ready to eat more! 

You may be wondering- what is a kumquat?  And why do 70% of Nevada County school kids like it?  A kumquat looks like a tiny orange, and tastes like a sweet tart…that is, if you can keep chewing it.

So here it is: Kumquat 101. 

Step one: Procure a kumquat. 

Step two: Roll it in your (clean) hands to release the essential oils, and inhale deeply.  Contemplate its citrusy nature.  Ask yourself why you don’t smell things before eating them more often.

Step three:  Pop the whole thing in your mouth and keep chewing till it tastes sweet.  Are you up for the challenge?

If you are, you might just get lucky.

In China, kumquats are called “Gam Gat Sue”.  “Gam” rhymes 
with the Chinese word for gold and “Gat” rhymes with the Chinese word for luck. The tiny green leaves symbolize wealth, and the shape of the kumquat is a symbol of unity and perfection. Everyone who eats the fruit for Chinese New Year is promised good fortune, prosperity and happiness.  Not a bad deal, for a tiny fruit.

You can eat these vitamin C packed, antioxidant filled gems out of your hand plain, or you can get creative.

Here are a few ways to enjoy the lucky kumquat:

  • Halve the fruits and add to a green winter salad with endive, escarole or spinach
  • Add the kumquats to a fruit salad with kiwis (another Harvest of the Month star!) other citrus and a dash of mint
  • Go classic and make a marmalade or candy them
  • Get fancy and preserve them in honey or make an infusion
  • Mix with spicy peppers for a flavorful relish