Kumquats are believed to have originated in China, with their earliest historical mention appearing 12th century literature. They are most commonly cultivated in Asia, the Middle East, parts of Europe (mainly Greece), and in the southern United States, including Louisiana, Florida, and California. The fruit is shaped like a much smaller, more oval orange and it is hardier than its citrus kin, preferring hot weather but able to withstand low temperatures and frosts. Kumquats grow on small evergreen shrubs that bear between 30 to 50 fruits. The trees can also be hydrophytic, which means they can grow in aquatic environments, and the fruits will drift towards the shore during harvest season.
Kumquats are generally eaten whole; the outer, sweet rind is edible and offers a contrast to the tangy, inner flesh. The fruit is also often candied or preserved in salt or sugar. Some mixologists are even swapping kumquats for olives for a more modern twist on the martini.