Oblong orange orbs

I discovered kumquats by plucking them from a tree between the English and art buildings on Sacramento State’s campus. Each March, only a handful of students climb the tree during school hours to curious stares and hushed jokes. I was the one in the tree filling my backpack until it overflowed.

Once in a while, someone would come up ask what I was doing. I’d show them the little oblong orange orbs, teach them how to eat them (seeds, skin and all). They’re delightfully sweet and sour—and also often $5 a pint at grocery stores.

A whole, unguarded tree is a gold mine.

If you happen to come across a kumquat tree (or just some kumquats in the store), do take the dive—or perhaps climb—and try them out. Muddled with some mint and rum, they make for wonderful mojitos. Slice and stuff them into fish or chicken for a citrus flair. Or slice them in half and pack them with salt and preserve them. And maybe candy them in simple syrup, or even pickle them for a unique treat. Some Vietnamese families even crush them and brew them in hot water for kumquat tea.