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Japanese Kinkan are have a more rounded shape than other varieties. They average 2.5 centimeters in diameter and have a thick, smooth, oily peel that is aromatic and mildly sweet. The fruit's flesh contains a minimal amount of juice and has a tart and bitter flavor. Kinkans are entirely edible, rind, flesh and few seeds. By eating the whole fruit, skin and flesh, creates balanced a sweet-tart flavor.
Japanese Kinkan kumquats are available in the fall and through the winter months.
Japanese Kinkan are also known as Maru or Marumi kinkan, or Sweet kumquat. Botanically, they are classified as Fortunella margarita and previously, Citrus japonica. Kinkan are also known as "golden oranges". The name ‘marumi’ refers to the round kumquats, whereas oval shaped fruits are referred to as ‘nagami’. Though Japanese Kinkan can be eaten raw, skin, flesh and all, in Japan they are most commonly prepared in syrup or candied.
Japanese Kinkan are rich in vitamin C, and contain high amounts of vitamins A, E and B-complex. The skins are a good source of fiber, pectin, and antioxidant flavonoids, like lutein and carotene. They also contain important volatile oils which offer both health benefits and essential oils.
Japanese Kinkan are eaten whole, raw. Before consuming or preparing, rinse and dry them. Kinkan are traditionally candied or made into marmalades or liqueur. They can be cooked in syrup, either whole or chopped. Raw Kinkans can be cut into sections or slices and added to fruit or green salads. They can be preserved in syrup, pickled or dried. Use whole, chopped or pureed Japanese Kinkan for cakes, muffins or other desserts. The sweet-tart fruits can be used in savory dishes and will compliment poultry, beef, lamb, or fish. They pair well with bitter greens, brussels sprouts, chiles, cranberries and pineapple. Japanese Kinkan will store at room temperature for up to a week and will keep for up to a month in the refrigerator.
On New Year’s Day, the Japanese have a tradition of resting, visiting family, and eating traditional foods called “osechi ryouri”. The tradition, which began during the Heian Period between 794 and 1185 CE, originally included preserved foods that didn’t require cooking like fish and vegetables simmered in soy sauce, vinegar, or sweet mirin. Over the years the foods have changed but the tradition of eating osechi ryouri has remained the same. Many of the special foods added throughout the years symbolize health, good fortune, longevity and fertility. Kinkan kanro-ni, or Japanese candied kumquats, is one of those traditional foods, eaten on New Year’s Day to symbolize. They appear in bento boxes can be eaten as is or served over pound cake or cheese cake.
Japanese Kinkan are native to China and came to Japan sometime before 1784, when they were first described by Swedish botanist Carl Thunberg. The Marumi Kinkan is most commonly grown in Japan, and still grow wild in some parts of the country. They can also be found in China and the Philippines. Today, Miyazaki Prefecture on the southernmost island of Japan grows 70 percent of the country’s kumquats.
Recipes that include Kinkan Kumquats. One is easiest, three is harder.