Eating the skin of a citrus fruit is unfathomable for some people because almost every citrus fruit has to be peeled with the fruit of our efforts in the sweet flesh. But a kumquat (a tiny citrus fruit about the size of an olive) is different in that the skin is sweet and the flesh is sour. Ideal for jams and marmalade, kumquats provide the perfect ying and yang when it comes to making a fruit spread for our toast or bagels, but have never really caught the public’s attention like the Mandarin, Honey Bell, Navel, or Sumo.
Knowing how well sweet and sour go together, Frieda’s created a hybrid of mandarin and kumquat called the Mandarinquat which is much more palatable than kumquats eaten fresh. The mandarinquat is about the size of an apricot and should be eaten whole (although it is easily sliced for smaller bites), rind and all. With a teardrop shape, the flesh is super juicy and tastes like a tart mandarin but the bright orange rind is very sweet. Together, the flavors are magnificent.
Mandarinquats are best eaten fresh as is, sliced and diced in a salad (slice, remove the seeds and toss with greens, toasted almonds, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar), or cooked as a marmalade or jam. Sold in 10 ounce containers (with 8-10 fruit per container), Mandarinquats sell for about $4.99 at grocery stores nationwide including Whole Foods Markets this week. The season is short – over by the end of March – so pick up a container before they’re gone.