My first introduction to Brussels sprouts was in a magazine. I can’t remember what it was exactly – some women’s home magazine – but there was a photo spread that featured a dollhouse, with a picture of a Brussels sprout as a tiny cabbage. I’d never eaten Brussels sprouts or cabbage at that point, but that didn’t stop me from becoming instantly enamored with the idea of a tiny, edible version of a larger vegetable. Ever since then, I’ve had a special place in my heart for the small cruciferous orbs, even if it took many more years before I tried them.
This post is not about Brussels sprouts.
It is, however, about a different tiny piece of produce – the kumquat. Like my first introduction to Brussels sprouts, I have only shadowy, vague memories of the moment when I became aware of kumquats. I recall a fruit tray, and someone telling me I could eat the entire fruit, skin and all, and tentatively yet excitedly trying one.
I don’t, however, remember what I thought about it or what it tasted like. I do remember thinking they were awfully cute, those lilliputian ovular fruits. Not unlike tiny oranges…
When I purchased a large handful of kumquats at the co-op a few days ago, I didn’t know quite what to expect. S had tried a sample recently and reported that they were too tart, which only served to heighten my interest – I’m a big lover of all things sour, so I knew I had to try them. And when I realized that Hannah Kaminsky has a recipe for Kumquat Poppy Seed Scones in Vegan Desserts: Sumptuous Sweets for Every Season, I knew the time was ripe for a purchase. If I didn’t enjoy the fruit raw, I could chop ’em up and put them in a baked good!
Reader, I did enjoy the fruit raw – very much so. S might find them too sour, but I think they’re perfect – just bursting with juicy, lip-puckering goodness, surrounded by a thin, sweet rind that tempers the tartness just the slightest bit. Delightful! However, that didn’t stop me from baking up a batch of scones.
I really enjoyed these, too. They’re a creative twist on the more quotidian lemon-poppy seed combination, offering a greater contrast between the sour and the sweet. And the orange flecks of chopped kumquat are very visually appealing. Admittedly, I was dubious about these while they were baking – my dough was very dry and required more soy milk than the recipe called for, but they emerged from the oven perfectly baked, tender and moist with a beautiful, hefty crumb. I should know to trust Hannah’s recipes and guidance!
All in all, I’m more than glad that I’ve welcomed kumquats into my life. Discovering a brand-new (to me!) piece of produce is a rare treat, and I’m glad to have found one I like so much.
What are your feelings on kumquats? How do you like to eat them?