Kumquat, this precious golden orange is a small fruit that holds a great place in the hearts of all those who love Corfu.
Kumquat in Corfu
Sidney Merlin brought the first kumquat to Corfu in 1924 where it was to become the trademark of the island for its manorial bitter-sweet taste, its different shape and colour and the unique preparations created by it.
The history of kumquat begins with a journey from the Far East to our Corfu cantons, with crops in China, Japan, Israel but also in Argentina and California. In Corfu it is cultivated mainly in the northern part of the island, based on the plain of Nymphs, which provides the plant with the appropriate soil and climate to thrive.
In 1981, eighty-nine kumquat producers from the Municipality of Nymphaeum founded the Nymphs Agricultural and Industrial Association. The purpose of the Association was the collection, production, promotion and sale of kumquats and their related products. According to the Ministerial Decision of 1994, the Association recognized kumquat as a PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) product with the aim of continuously improving the products, with new packaging and production automation combining tradition with technology.
The "golden orange", its literal translation from Chinese (kam kwat), gives us, in addition to its aroma, a large number of important substances that help the proper functioning of our body. It is the only citrus that is consumed raw with its peel, as nature has provided it for us!
Kumquat a healthy choice
Kumquat is extremely beneficial to our health. In addition to being low in calories, it has antioxidants such as carotene, tannins, zeaxanthin, lutein, etc.
It is a source of vitamins A and C, with a content of 44 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams. Vitamin C is known for the good health of connective tissue, its contribution to our body in wound healing and the absorption of free radicals. Kumquat is a good source of B vitamins that have a positive effect on the metabolism of carbohydrates but also of proteins and fats.
Some of them are thiamine, niacin, pyridoxine, folic and pantothenic acid. It is high in fiber that reduces the appetite for snacking, helps control weight and the proper functioning of our digestive system and leads to a slower absorption of glucose into the blood so that our blood sugar does not rise too much.
Kumquat… according to scientists
The kumquat fights prostate cancer. According to a 2012 study, kumquat oil can help reduce the spread of cancer cells in the prostate. It helps protect against heart disease and high blood pressure. Foods high in vitamin C help protect against heart disease and hypertension, according to the US Department of Agriculture.
The crops in Corfu cover a total of several hundred acres and a significant part of the production is exported to European Union countries. There is no visitor who has not tried kumquat, in one of all its versions. After collecting the fruits, the producers give their harvest to special factories. The larger fruits will be used in cans, and the smaller fruits in jams. The fruit is washed and placed in a special machine to boil. It stays in the machine for one day where sugar is added and the process takes seven days. The cans are placed in glass jars, which are placed in a special machine where the pasteurization of the product takes place. Kumquat becomes a wrapped fruit treat, jam, liqueur or the famous spoon dessert.
Sweet fruit treat:
This is made from canned fruit but has no syrup. In the beginning, each piece is wrapped in transparent food wrap and packed in small baskets and traditional boxes.
Jam: After the fruit has boiled in the machine mentioned above, but before the sugar is added, some are removed to create the jam. This is then packaged in jars.
Liqueur: The fruit is peeled and the extract from the peel is used to make a liqueur with additional colour added. The drink is bottled in different shape and size bottles.
The usefulness of Kumquat flowers in production:
When the trees bloom in August, growers place nets around them to collect the flower petals. Most of the extract from them is used to create liqueurs and so on, without added colour. The drink is bottled in bottles of different shapes and sizes.
- We choose our kumquats to be tight and have a beautiful orange colour.
- Wash them well and carve them with a knife into two or three pieces.
- Then put them in a bowl with the brandy in a shady place for three weeks. We do not close the bowl airtight, we want it to “breathe”.
- Then boil the two glasses of water, stirring the sugar to dissolve for five minutes. Once it cools, add it to the bowl and leave for another week.
- Remove the kumquats and strain with tulle as we put them in the bottles. Ready!
(Ingredients: 1 kg kumquat, 700-1000 gr. Sugar (depending on how sweet you like) 1 bottle of brandy 750 ml, 2 glasses of water)
- Put the kumquats in water for three days, changing the water every day.
- Boil them (in water that covers them) for 30 minutes.
- Discard the boiled water and boil them again for another 30 minutes.
- Empty the water again and check if they are soft so that they can be pierced with a toothpick. If the peel is hard, make holes peripherally with the toothpick.
- Prepare the syrup by adding as much sugar as the kumquats + 250 gr. That is, for half a kilo of kumquat we put 750 gr. sugar. Add 1.5 glass of water and boil for 2 minutes and at the end add a few drops of lemon.
- Add the boiled fruits to the prepared syrup and let them boil together for a few minutes. If the syrup sets too much, add a little water and boil for 5-6 minutes. If it is too thin, add sugar the next day and boil again for 3-5 minutes.
(Ingredients: Kumquat (fruit), Sugar, Water, lemon)
Whether you have tried it or not, whether you love its taste and smell or not, Kumquat is undoubtedly part of the cultural and social identity of our island!
Although it is a small fruit… it will always have a big place in the hearts of all those who love Corfu!
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