Kumquats are at their peak season from November all the way into the month of March. Kumquats are ready to eat when you pluck them off the tree. Their thin skin is where the sugar lives, and there’s almost no bitter pith. The flesh can be extremely sour and their seeds, while sometimes a bit crunchy, are small and edible.
Buy kumquats with bright, smooth skins that feel a bit heavy for their small size. Select firm kumquats that have glossy rinds without cracks or blemishes. Soft kumquats can spoil rapidly. Avoid fruits that are shriveled. Choose kumquats with freshly picked leaves still attached.
Eat them whole, poach them in sugar syrup and serve them with ice cream, or use them in a fruit salad. They are particularly good in stuffings for poultry. When made into compôte or chutney, they complement duck and other fatty meats well.
All kumquats have tiny seeds that can be removed when sliced — or discreetly spit out if the entire fruit is eaten. The rich glossy green leaves of the kumquat tree are not edible, but are nice for decoration.
They can be stored on the countertop for a couple of days; otherwise, place them in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.