Do you have a glut of kumquats?
Are you looking for new ways to use and preserve them?
Recently my neighbor gifted me a large basket full of kumquats and I was in your very position.
After preserving some of the fruit using traditional methods, I realized I had a new method to try.
Freeze drying is a method of preservation that retains high levels of the foods original nutritional value, while simultaneously increasing shelf life up to 25 years. Freeze dried kumquats are a light, airy and crunchy snack that retains the sweet-tangy flavor of a fresh kumquat.
Read on to discover the process of freeze drying kumquats and to see the finished product!
How to Freeze Dry Kumquats
If you have a kumquat tree in the backyard, you will know that there comes a time of year when you can’t eat, preserve or give them away fast enough!
If you have exhausted the traditional methods of kumquat preservation; canning, candying, making jams and preserves, dehydrating or even salting, why not give freeze drying a try? It just might be the easiest method of preserving kumquats yet!
Here is the process I followed in 5 easy steps.
1. Harvest/Purchase Kumquats
If you don’t have your own tree, you can also follow these steps with store bought kumquats (or, if you are like me, with fruit gifted by a neighbor). I used 40-50 kumquats per tray so if you have a medium freeze dryer and plan on filling all 4 trays, you will need roughly 160-200 fruit.
2. Clean & Cut the Kumquats
Give the kumquats a good wash with fresh water. Since you will be consuming the skin, it is probably best to avoid fruit that has been subject to any type of chemical sprays such as pesticides, since the concentration of these is highest in the peel of citrus fruit and are not always successfully removed by washing alone.1
It is easy to avoid chemical sprays with homegrown fruit but if you are purchasing your kumquats, look for organic or ‘spray free’ options.
Once clean, I cut the kumquats in half. If your fruit is large, you might even like to quarter it which will work too. Just don’t leave the fruit whole as it will reduce the effectiveness of the freeze drying process.
By the way, did you know that in addition to eating the peel, you can also eat kumquat seeds? There is no need to de-seed your fruit unless it is your preference to do so.
3. Prepare Your Freeze Drying Trays
Place the halved kumquats on your freezer dryer trays, peel side down. I kept mine in a single layer which enabled me to fit 40-50 fruit per tray. There is no need to use any parchment paper or tray liners when freeze drying kumquats.
I am a big fan of pre-freezing everything before it goes into the freeze dryer, so I would recommend putting your prepared trays into the freezer for at least 24 hours before beginning the next step.
4. Run the Freeze Dry Cycle
Once your kumquats are frozen, you can load them into the freeze dryer (mine is a medium Harvest Right unit). The machine does the heavy lifting for you in this step. All you need to do is start the cycle and be patient while it does its thing!
In our case, the cycle ran for around 24 hours before moving into extra dry time. At this point, the kumquats were still a little sticky to touch so they were given more dry time, bringing the total cycle time to about 28 hours.
5. Package the Kumquats
Once you are satisfied that the drying process is complete, it is time to package up the kumquats for storage. We packaged some in Mylar bags with an oxygen absorber for long term storage, but we also kept some in mason jars for snacking on in the short term. Although we kept ours whole (well, halved), you could also opt to powder the kumquats to save on storage space.
How to Use Freeze Dried Kumquats
Now you have your freeze dried kumquats completed, here are some ways you can use them.
1. Enjoy as a Tasty Snack
Freeze dried kumquats are a light, crunchy snack that really get the saliva flowing with their sweet/sour flavor. You can enjoy them exactly as they are, or if you desire a little extra sweetness, sprinkle over a little raw sugar and give them a good shake before eating.
2. Make Citrus Powder
Kumquats are high in Vitamin C, containing about 81.2mg of ascorbic acid per 185g cup of fruit. The peel of the kumquat is also a good source of dietary fiber and antioxidants.2 This means that you can make a healthy, nutrient packed powder out of your freeze dried kumquats.
3. Use in Cooking
There are plenty of tasty recipes that incorporate kumquats (Moist Kumquat Ginger Cake anyone?). If the recipe calls for kumquat juice, rehydrate some of your powder. If it calls for sliced or diced kumquats, you can rehydrate your freeze dried kumquat halves and slice or dice them as necessary.
4. Make a Tasty Drink
Need a healthy tang replacement? Why not mix a few spoonfuls of your kumquat powder with water instead? Or get fancy with your kumquat halves by slicing them into wedges and floating them in a jug of iced water.
5. Use in DIY Cleaners, Soaps, Cosmetics & Candles
Kumquat is a popular ingredient in the cosmetic industry thanks to its high vitamin C content and antioxidant properties. Why not get inventive with your own DIY soaps, cosmetics, candles or household cleaning products?
Frequently Asked Questions
There are many methods of processing kumquats to increase their shelf life. These include canning whole or as preserves, candying, freezing, dehydrating, salting, turning into a liqueur and of course, freeze drying.
Kumquats can be dried using a dehydrator, by oven drying or freeze drying. Of these methods, freeze drying will retain the most nutrients and provide the longest shelf life.
Kumquat is best eaten whole and has a citrusy flavor with sweet rind and sour flesh. The seeds can be slightly bitter but are also edible.
Freeze drying fruit is a preservation method that allows it to retain nearly all of the antioxidants, vitamins and minerals it contained in its original, fresh form. This means freeze dried fruit is extremely nutritious and a healthy snack. Just keep in mind that since the water content has been removed, it is easier to over-consume freeze-dried fruit.
Healthy Sweet & Sour Treats
There is no need to purchase artificial sweet & sour lollies when you have a kumquat tree in your backyard and a means to preserve the fruit!
The humble kumquat is an oft-overlooked fruit with a variety of uses in the home.
What are some of the creative ways you have preserved and used a glut of kumquats? Will you give freeze drying kumquats a try? We would love to hear from you in the comments below.
1) Anneli Kruvea, Andrea Lamos, Jekaterina Kirillova, and Koit Herodes. Pesticide residues in commercially available oranges and evaluation of potential washing methods. 134 Proc. Estonian Acad. Sci. Chem., 2007, 56, 3, 134–141. https://kirj.ee/public/Chem/2007/issue_3/chem-2007-3-3.pdf