Like my kids, I’m a relative newcomer to kumquats. I’ve often seen them in grocery stores, but it wasn’t until recently that I took the plunge and bought my first container. They’re not the most intuitive fruit to eat and prepare. Their bitter shell, although edible, is extremely tart, and the inside of the fruit is packed with seeds. But if you’re not game for eating them raw, they’re delicious candied in simple syrup, which has all kinds of fun applications (you can read more about those ideas here). Not surprisingly, the kids weren’t into them. But sometimes it’s fun to experience new flavors and textures together, even if you know what the end result will be.

ME: Ok, guys.  What are these things?

LAUREN: Orange cherry tomatoes.

ME: Good guess. What do you think, Sam?

SAM: Tomatoes.

EMMA: Potatoes.

ME: These are not tomatoes. They’re not potatoes.  These are called kumquats.

SAM: Kumquats?!

LAUREN: Kumquats.

ME: What do you think Emma?

EMMA: Salty.

SAM: You just eat it like that (with the skin on)?

ME: Yeah.

LAUREN: You even eat the skins?!

ME: Yeah.

LAUREN: It tastes like a sour orange.

ME: It does taste like a sour orange.

ME: Sam, did you try it?

LAUREN: Sweet bologna.

SAM: I don’t want to.

ME: Sam.  Look, have you ever eaten an orange with the skin on?

SAM: Pft.

ME: Well now’s your time to try it. It’s probably pretty similar.  There are some seeds inside so just take a little bite at the end of the fruit.

SAM: I don’t want to.

LAUREN: Does it taste like oranges?

ME: It does.  Take a little bite.

LAUREN: This is what vampires eat.

ME: What do you think, Sam?  Did you get a seed?

SAM: No.

ME: It’s kind of addictive, right.  It’s like a really bitter peel, but inside it’s so tart. But you can eat the whole thing. 

LAUREN: I like the peel.

ME: Sam, don’t try to hide it in your pajamas.  I can see it. 

LAUREN: It’s so bitter.

SAM: It tastes like soap.

ME: You know why it tastes like soap?

SAM: Why?

ME: Because soap is also bitter tasting.  By the way, how do you know what soap tastes like?

LAUREN: Because I’ve tasted soap before. 

ME: Oh. Sam, when have you tasted soap?

SAM: Zero weeks.

LAUREN: No, he’s picked up bubbles before and eaten them.

ME: Is that why you know what soap tastes like?

SAM: Yeah.

ME: So these are raw kumquats.  Do you guys want to taste what they’re like when they’ve been candied?

SAM: Candied? I love candy.

ME: I know you love candy, but this is candied kumquat meaning that it’s been cooked in a sugar syrup.  So it’s the same fruit…


ME: — but it’s been candied in a simple syrup with a vanilla bean. 

SAM: I hate vanilla.

LAUREN: Is it honey?

ME: No, it’s not honey. Here, smell it. What do you think?  They syrup’s pretty good, right?  Did you try the kumquat yet?

LAUREN: Too scared to.

ME: You’re too scared to taste it?  You’re never too scared.  Come on, down the hatch, big bite.  It’s good, right?  You don’t like it?  That’s OK, you don’t have to like it.

LAUREN:  I think it tastes like it does when’s it raw.

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