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Kumquat is a citrus fruit of Asian origin; it was once classified under the genus citrus, in the japonica species; further research has made the kumquat move into the fortunella genus; nowadays there are conflicting opinions on whether or not this plant belongs to the genus Citrus, therefore it is commonly treated as citrus japonica, or as fortunella japonica, depending on the point of view of those who speak of it, just as often they are referred to as citrus fortunella, or citrus X fortunella, to indicate its hybrid origin. In fact there are some different species, which can therefore be considered as a variety of citrus japonica, or as true species of fortunella or citrus X fortunella. In general it is citrus fruit, therefore belonging to the family of rutacee; they are small trees, which do not exceed 3-5 meters in height, evergreen, with glossy, leathery leaves, covered with a waxy patina, decidedly smaller than those of other citrus fruits. They bloom in full summer, producing white flowers, very fragrant, at the leaf axil; the flowers follow small fruits, oval or roundish, golden orange or intense yellow. The particularity of the kumquat it is in the pulp and in the peel of the fruits even though they remember a miniature orange in every way, these small citrus fruits have a very sweet peel, and a very sour pulp; for this reason, they are eaten whole, so that the sugar contained in the thin skin, relieves the sour sensation caused by the juice of the pulp, sour like that of a lemon or lime.
Fortunella japonica, syn. Citrus japonica, Syn. Citrus X fortunella japonica
Japanese kumquat is not very common in Italian living, while it is very popular in Asia; in fact in Italy it is also very difficult to find the fruits of this species, which are roundish in shape. The foliage is dark, oval, and small in size; the fruits appear in summer and autumn and resemble tiny oranges or clementines, the size of small plums, with a very thin skin. The overall flavor of these kumquats is very pleasant, they are very fragrant and aromatic and are often used to prepare jams and marmalades.
Fortunella margarita, syn. Citrus margarita, syn. Citrus X fortunella margarita
This species is one of the few commonly found in Europe and Italy, where it is also cultivated for fruit production; the plant is slightly larger than the Japanese type, and is native to China, where it has been cultivated for millennia. Even the foliage is slightly larger, and light in color. The plant produces small fruits, similar to oranges, but oval in shape; typically the fruits of this species are the most widespread in the world, and therefore when we talk about kumquats the fortunella margarita fruits immediately come to mind. These fruits have a thin, very sweet and aromatic peel.
It is a hybrid, widespread in Europe, obtained by crossing the fortunella margarita plants (that is, the oval kumquats), and the citrus clementine (or mandarancio); the result is a small citrus tree, which does not exceed three meters in height in the ground, with a dense evergreen foliage, of small dimensions. The fruits, which mature ine, inherit their peculiar characteristics from the two progenitors, therefore they are slightly rounded fruits, with aromatic and sweet rind, and quite sweet pulp, decidedly less harsh. This variety is often sold as an ornamental plant, to be cultivated in pots.
Kumquats are among the simplest citrus fruits to cultivate, as their vegetative cycle is slightly different than that of lemons or oranges. The dimensions of the adult trees are decidedly contained, and it is difficult to see a specimen that exceeds 4-5 meters in height; the foliage is dense and dense, and is evergreen. These citrus fruits have periods of complete vegetative rest, which last from October to November, until April-May, this causes two things: first of all, these fruits do not bloom in winter, but in late spring, when the minimum temperatures are already well high. In addition to this, thanks to their vegetative rest, the kumquats are quite resistant to cold, and can withstand without damage any temperature even close to -10 ° C, contrary to what happens for other citrus species. In fact, it often happens that kumquats are also grown in areas of northern Italy, where they are kept in pots, to repair them in greenhouses during the winter months; the shelter in the greenhouse does not harm the plants, which do not need care during the colder period of the year. The cultivation in full ground takes place in a very sunny place, in a rich and fertile soil; the kumquats, in the areas where they grow in the natural state, are sometimes subject to periodic floods, to which the trees survive without problems; for this reason they can survive without problems even in areas characterized by soil that is often damp or wet, without suffering damage. To have a good harvest, it is good to water regularly, preferably waiting for the soil to dry between two waterings, avoiding excesses; we also avoid watering the plant when it is in vegetative rest, from October to March, and instead remember to intensify the supply of water when the small fruits are ripening. If we grow these fruits in pots, it is preferable to vaporize the canopy frequently with demineralized water, to maintain high environmental humidity. Although these small trees can easily withstand frost as well, if we want an abundant harvest, it is necessary to cultivate them in areas with mild winters, or cover the foliage with non-woven fabric during periods of more intense frost.
Pests and diseases
Kumquats resist cold and high soil humidity; if grown in very hot and dry areas, they tend to get hit by red spider mites and cochineal; this is especially true for specimens grown in pots, when they are repaired in greenhouses during the cold months, where air recirculation is decidedly limited. To eradicate these insects it is good to use pyrethrum-based insecticides and acaricides, and also white oil in the case of cochineal. Citrus fruits, in general, tend to suffer from chlorosis, usually caused not by poor iron soils, but by a general lack of mineral salts; to prevent this event from occurring, it is advisable to regularly supply a good fertilizer, possibly with slow release, so that a single supply remains in the ground for months; or we can also supply a fertilizer to be dissolved in the water every 12-15 days, from April to September. We avoid providing fertilizers in autumn and winter.
Grafted citrus fruits
citrus fruits have been cultivated by man for several millennia; all the citrus fruits that we find on the table usually come from grafted plants, as the plants obtained from seed do not produce flowers or even fruits, although in general the small seeds contained in the fruits are fertile. For this reason, in order to have a plant that produces the fruit we want, it is necessary to take a scion and graft it onto a rootstock. In forest plants, such as beech or elm, small seed plants of the species we want to propagate are usually produced, and therefore the variety we want to propagate is grafted onto them. For example a beech is sown, and on the young seedlings obtained they are grafted beeches with red and variegated leaves. On the other hand, when it comes to citrus fruits, the seeds contained in the fruits are hardly sown, and then a fruitful variety is grafted onto them; usually the rootstocks and citrus fruits are other plants, always belonging to the family of rutaceae, but which usually do not produce edible citrus fruits. Typically, as a kumquat rootstock, poncirus trifoliata or murraya paniculata is used. The murraya is a small rutacee tree, native to the tropical areas of Asia, quite resistant to cold, which has pinnate leaves and produces small red fruits; the poncirus trifoliata is a small tree with tripenate leaves, with stems provided with sharp thorns, which produces small fruits similar to oranges. The kumquats grafted onto the murraya tend to be a little less resistant to cold; the kumquats grafted on the poncirus are well resistant to the cold, and sometimes have thorns on the high branches.
The term kumquat usually indicates the fruits of the fortunella; as we said, these fruits are small in size, generally smaller than a plum, and are characterized by a thin aromatic and very sweet peel, and a juicy, decidedly very sour pulp. Usually these fruits can be eaten raw, and are available in stores starting in September; in Italy the production of kumquats is decidedly low, and therefore most of these fruits come from tropical areas, and therefore we can find them on the market even during the winter, together with the other citrus fruits. With these fruits are also prepared candied fruit, jams, fruit compotes, as once cooked, the sugar added to the recipe, completely eliminates the sour component of the fruit juice, giving rise to a very aromatic and sweet jam. Contrary to what happens for the other citrus fruits, in the kumquat fruits the whitish part that divides the cloves of the exseridium is not bitter, and therefore to prepare a kumquat jam it is possible to use the whole fruits, simply cutting them and mixing them at equal weight in sugar.
Kumquat: Cooking and recipes
This small fruit with a similar appearance to mandarin is very useful for making tasty recipes and innovative dishes. Despite its scarce spread on the Italian territory, today we can find kumquats even in the most supplied supermarkets. Jams, spaghetti artichokes and kumquats, scallops, creams, desserts, plum cake cherries and kumquats, candied fruit, frozen desserts, fruit salads, veal: here are some of the dishes you could easily cook! The fruits of kumquat are rich in vitamins, potassium, are excellent digestive if consumed at the end of a meal and can be consumed naturally, with or without peel! Use them too to create tasty dishes.
Kumquat (also called Chinese mandarin) is a citrus fruit belonging to the Rutaceae family. The real botanical name