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An oddity in orange; Kumquat: Surprise! The sweetness is in the rind, not the flesh.


Kumquats resemble miniature oranges, their distant relatives. Unlike true members of the citrus family, these golden, inch-long fruits have their sweetness concentrated not in their flesh but rather in their skins, so there's a simple trick to eating them out of hand: Gently massage each grape-sized fruit between the fingers to release its citrusy aroma and mingle its contrasting flavors.

Kumquat clusters make appealing decorations and garnishes. They can be sliced into fruit salads, used in cakes and other desserts, simmered into marmalade or candied.

Note: Preserved kumquats in syrup or sugar are available in many supermarkets and in Chinese markets.

Kumquat Ice

Makes about 1 quart

2 cups fresh kumquats

1 1/4 cups sugar

2 cups water

1 1/2 cups orange juice

3 tablespoons lemon juice

fresh or candied kumquats for garnish

Halve kumquats; puree in food processor or blender. Place puree in saucepan. Add sugar and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; add water and juices. Strain into a clean bowl and chill thoroughly. Transfer to an ice cream machine and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. Garnish.

Candied Kumquats

Makes about 30

1 pound (about 30) fresh kumquats

2 1/2 cups sugar

3/4 cup water

Remove small stem ends from kumquats. Cut 4 evenly spaced lengthwise slits around each fruit. Place in a saucepan; cover with water. Lightly poach over medium heat 5 to 7 minutes, then drain well. Do not overcook or kumquats will fall apart during the next step.

In the same saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups of the sugar and the water. Stir well, add drained kumquats and bring to a slow boil. Cook uncovered over low heat about 30 minutes, watching carefully. If sugar starts to brown, lower heat at once.

Drain candied kumquats on wire rack for 10 minutes; they should not touch each other. Put remaining sugar in a bowl; roll each kumquat in sugar. Allow fruit to dry overnight on wire rack. Transfer to paper candy cups to prevent fruit from sticking together. Candied fruit can be stored in an airtight tin in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months.

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