My Next Fruit Adventure: Guatemala

A few posts ago, The Fruit Adventurer family was busy deciding on our next fruit adventure. Well, we’ve finally made up our minds, and booked airline tickets to Guatemala!

I’m super excited, because I’ve always wanted to see the Mayan pyramids, and we will definitely be making a visit to Tikal, an amazing site of Mayan ruins in the north of Guatemala. In addition to Tikal, we’ll also make stops in Antigua and Lake Atitlan.

The Fruit Adventurer and Mr. Fruit Adventurer are experienced travelers, so with two and a half weeks we could normally squeeze in more stops on our Guatemalan adventure. However, we will be taking our 5 month old with us, and this will be the first time we are backpacking with a baby. I’m getting anxious just thinking about it! I’m definitely stepping outside of my comfort zone with this trip, but that is one of the main reasons I travel (besides fruit adventures), so mission accomplished.

Mostly though, my anxiety of traveling with a baby is being trumped by the opportunity to try a whole bunch of new fruits, and perhaps become reacquainted with some old fruit friends! The fruit adventure possibilities seem endless, although I’m not even sure of all the fruits Guatemala has on offer.

Part of what I love about fruit adventures is going to a new place and just wandering the markets to find a fruit I’ve never seen before. But this time around, what with the blog and new baby and all, I want to go in with more of a game plan and will do some research on Guatemalan fruits beforehand.

Besides doing some fruit research, I’ve got lots to do to get myself ready for this trip. We leave in 3 weeks, so over the Christmas holiday, I’ll be brushing up on my Spanish, trying to find baby-friendly accommodations in Guatemala, and I may even start packing.

I’m going to take a few days off blog writing to enjoy Christmas, but I’ll be back next week to share more fruit stories and adventures with you. Take care until then and enjoy the holidays!

5 Uses for Kumquats

Now back to our regular programming. On Monday I promised that I would share a post on some nifty things to do with kumquats. So if you’re wondering what to do with kumquats beyond just eating them, here are 5 uses for that small citrus fruit:

  1. Make sangria.  I ended up making a winter sangria with my leftover bunch of kumquats, but in my opinion they would make a fine addition to any sangria.
  2. Add a kumquat to a Corona.  Instead of the usual lime, try slicing the top off of a kumquat and putting it sliced side down into your next bottle of Corona.
  3. Use kumquats as a breath freshener.  Seriously!  Kumquats have such an intense zesty citrus flavor that they really cleanse the palate and leave a fresh citrusy taste in your mouth for hours.
  4. Make marmalade.  I thought about making marmalade with my kumquats before I settled on making sangria. I was going to use a recipe for small batch kumquat marmalade since I only had about a pint of kumquats.
  5. Prepare a jar of candied kumquats.  Once candied, you can use the kumquats as a sauce for meats or desserts, or just eat them right out of the jar! Try a traditional recipe, or if you’re feeling adventurous, I think this recipe for spiced candied kumquats looks interesting.

Do you have any other ideas for what can be done with kumquats? Share your ideas in the comment section!

When Life Gives you Kumquats, Make Sangria

I said I was going to do a post today on a bunch of different ways you can use up kumquats, but I woke up this morning and Twitter told me it’s National Sangria Day. Boom!

The Fruit Adventurer stars must be aligning, because I love sangria, especially with lots of citrus fruit like oranges, limes and lemons. And what better way to use up a bunch of kumquats than in a tasty wine punch!

Sangria is a drink I usually like to have in the summer, and it being the middle of December and all, it’s quite cold and snowy at the moment in my hometown of Ottawa, Canada. At this time of year I switch to mulled wine when I fancy a wine cocktail, so I had the idea to make a winter sangria using the spices I would normally put in mulled wine.

Well let me tell you guys, my winter sangria creation is fantastic! Delicious fruitiness in a glass with just the right spiciness to make it taste like winter. And the best part is you can use this recipe with any fruit you need to use up, not just kumquats. So here’s how to make it and a recipe that you can adapt using whatever fruit you have on hand.

Grab a juice pitcher, ½ cup of spiced rum, a bottle of red wine, 1 cup of orange juice, and ½ cup of sugar.

Put all of these ingredients into the pitcher, and stir until the sugar is dissolved.

Next add the spices. You’ll need 2 sticks of cinnamon, 8 whole cloves, 1 star anise, and a chunk of peeled ginger, about the size of your thumb.  

Put all of the spices into the pitcher.

Now it’s time to prepare the fruit. I used about a ½ cup of kumquats, cut in half. I also sliced up half of an orange, and grabbed a handful of frozen strawberries, which were already sliced. How convenient! (I used frozen because the only fresh strawberries I can get in December are imported, and they taste like cardboard).

Add the fruit into the pitcher.

Time for the wine. I used some homemade wine, since I had it on hand. But any fruity, unoaked red wine will do. Merlot is a great choice.

Pour the wine into the pitcher, and give the mixture a final stir. Now put the sangria into the refrigerator, and let it sit for at least 2 hours, and overnight if you can wait that long. Letting the sangria sit gives the flavours time to meld, and intensifies the taste of the winter spices.

After waiting time is up, grab yourself a glass, invite your friends over, and enjoy this glorious creation in honor of National Sangria Day! Cheers!

 

The Fruit Adventurer’s Winter Sangria Recipe:

  • 1 750ml bottle of fruity red wine (unoaked)
  • ½ cup spiced rum
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 star anise
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon-sized chunk of fresh ginger, peeled
  • 2 cups winter fruit – Your choice of whatever you have on hand, but sliced citrus fruits, cranberries, pomegranate seeds, sliced apple, sliced pear, and fresh or frozen berries are all good options if you live in the northern hemisphere.

Put all of the ingredients into a drink pitcher, give it a good stir, and let the sangria sit in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, overnight if possible. Serve over ice. If you enjoy a bubbly sangria, feel free to add a dash of club soda to your glass, or just drink it straight like I prefer. Cheers!

Kumquat, that small citrus fruit

I have been curious about kumquats ever since I was a little kid. My granny had a piece of art in her kitchen depicting a food for every letter of the alphabet. Here’s a photo of it, and a close up of the subject for K, Kumquat:

When visiting Granny, I always zeroed in on the kumquat with its funny name, and I’d ask her “What’s a kumquat?” She told me it was an exotic citrus fruit and that I would have to travel “very far away” to find it.  

Well, thanks to Granny I have yearned to try kumquat for a very long time. And I thought my wish was granted a couple of years ago at Sang’s Coin Wash in Ottawa.

Mr. Sang had a tree in his front window, and growing on it were tiny, orange citrus fruits. I thought they were kumquats.  So imagine my excitement the first time Mr. Sang offered me some. I peeled away the skin, revealing tiny sections. They were sweet and juicy and I was thrilled to have finally tasted a kumquat. And bonus, I didn’t even have to travel very far, tasting kumquat in the middle of winter in Canada.

Fast forward to this past weekend. I was out grocery shopping when I happened upon this pack of kumquats:

This was the first time I had ever seen kumquats at a Canadian grocery store, and being The Fruit Adventurer, I decided to pick them up. I hurried home and peeled a kumquat, only to be disappointed by a mushy piece of fruit.

I popped it into my mouth, and lord was it sour! I thought I must have picked a bad batch. I tried a couple more, just as sour. Yuck! At this point I did a quick google search, and I learned from this YouTube video that you don’t peel kumquats, you eat them whole! In this moment it dawned on me that I’d never eaten a kumquat afterall, and Mr. Sang’s citrus fruits were actually little oranges.

Now I was super pumped, embarking on a brand new fruit adventure to eat a kumquat!

I proceeded to eat one whole, and was greeted with an explosion of tart, tangy orange and citrus zest. Seriously, these little kumquats are intense!

I must say now that I know how to eat them properly, kumquats are one of the most interesting fruits I’ve ever eaten. But overall, they aren’t one of my favourites.  That being said, imported fruit in Canada is really hit or miss. I’m willing to give kumquats another chance, but next time I’ll try them in their local environment so I can have a more authentic kumquat experience.

In the meantime, I have a bunch of kumquats left over that I’m not loving, so what am I going to do with them? Stay tuned… Next time I’ll post about some nifty things you can do with kumquats.

Choosing my next Fruit Adventure

The Fruit Adventurer wants to escape the cold, Canadian winter, so The Fruit Adventurer family is going to go on vacation in January. But we haven’t finalized our destination yet.

Of course, I want to select a spot that is fruit adventure friendly. We’re currently trying to decide between Hawaii, Vietnam, Ecuador and Guatemala. I think each country has their own fruit adventure to offer, so I’m kind of stuck on which one to choose.

Thoughts? Let me know in the comments.