Friday, January 25, 2013

Kumquat Growers Inc, Dade City, Fla

Kumquats have been a grown in Florida since the late 1800s. Kumquat Growers Inc, a Gude & Neuhaufer family owned business, has been packing and shipping kumquats since 1895. Kumquat are small, orange skinned, completely edible citrus that have their origins in China. The two most popular varieties are the Meiwa (sweet) and the Nagami (tart).

Frank and Sonny Gude, Kumquat Growers Inc.,
Dade City, Fla.
Traditionally the fruit was used as a living mantle decoration for Christmastime celebrations. Then it became popular year-round in the 1920s according to Frank Gude, co-owner of Kumquat Growers Inc., when Mrs Nath made it into marmalade from trees her husband had planted. She shipped jars to friends up north and it became an instant hit. Soon her husband Christopher Nath had to plant an acre of fruit to keep up with demand.

Front entrance of Kumquat Growers Inc., Dade City,
"All kumquats are clipped and not picked because the stem gives the fruit a longer shelf life," said Fanchone Gude, my guide for the day I toured in December 2012. She added the fruit are still shipped around Christmas but they no longer have their leaves attached because the USDA restriction about leaf greening and canker disease spreads to other States.

Three different stages of ripeness on Kumquat tree,
Kumquat Growers Inc., Dade City, Fla.
"Kumquats are  the only citrus not waxed because the skin is edible," said Fanchone. She added that kumquats cannot be gassed to ripen them because again the skins are going to be eaten along with the rest of the fruit. According to Franchone the skin is actually the sweetest part of the fruit.

Gift shop at Kumquat Growers Inc., Dade City,
Fla. taken Dec 2012
They have a gift shop on site where you can buy fresh kumquats of either the Nagami (tart) style or the Meiwa (sweet) style.

The Florida season goes from mid-November to mid-February. Then the groves in California take over the market.

The shop also has lots of jams, jellies, barbecue sauces, hot sauces, and desserts all made with Kumquat Grove grown kumquats. You can visit them in Dade City or go to their website to buy their products

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