Native to China, the cumquat is a versatile citrus fruit that could be eaten fresh straight of the tree or processed. Cumquats are known for their edible rind and unique taste, and Australia's largest commercial growers are turning almost every bit of the fruit into edible produce. Riverland growers Patria and Andrew Kohler are about to start this year's harvest of their 500 cumquat trees and say demand for the tiny fruit is growing every year.
"People in Australia are looking for more unusual fruits … and it's a fruit with an unusual taste that has to be tasted," Ms Kohler said. "You can just pop the whole fruit in your mouth and you get all the sensations, all the tastes in one hit," she said. "You can eat the rind and flesh … it's got a real sweet skin to it with a tangy centre piece."
The farming family produces about two tonnes of the fruit per year and grows two different varieties, each with its own distinctive flavour.
"We grow the Nagami cumquat which is of an oval shape, so that's a bit more of a tart variety and got a tangy flavour, and we grow the Marumi variety which is much rounder and sweeter," Mr Kohler said.
The Kohler family will harvest their fruit over the coming four months and besides selling the fresh fruit to markets all across Australia and metro areas, they also process cumquats aiming for a near zero-waste operation. "We try to use everything we can, so what we see as our by-products we try to find a use for them as well," Ms Kohler said.
"For example our cumquat syrup is something that generally a normal person would probably just discard, but we actually do reuse that and turn it into a product that you can use on your pancakes, for cereals and also for ice creams. Pretty much the only thing we don't use is the cumquat seeds because we just haven't been able to come up with something for those just yet."