February's Tree of The Month is one of my favourite citrus out there; the lovely Limequat plant! And this isn't any old Limequat! This month, our Limequat tree’s have received a bit of a makeover, all ready for Valentines day. Each plant is decorated with a love heart shaped frame, before being gift wrapped by hand in red and cream, to make a really spectacular gift.
You may not have heard of the Limequat, but this unusual citrus tree has actually been around for over a century! It was invented by the American botanist Walter Tennyson Swingle, and is a cross between two other varieties of citrus plant; the Key Lime and the Kumquat. Key Limes are a strongly acid fruit with a thin rind, valued for their unique flavour. Kumquats are a small fruit which, unusually for citrus, can be eaten whole.
How to Cook/Eat
So what is the resulting fruit like? Limequats are a yellow or green fruit around the size of an olive, with sweet rind, tangy, acidic flesh and a pleasingly complex flavour. Limequats can be eaten whole, but they are quite tart so you may not want to! In my opinion, Limequats are a brilliant fruit to make into preserves; jams, pickles and chutneys are all excellent options. Limequats are really rather versatile if you think outside the box. They can be used in any recipe which calls for the juice and zest of a citrus, but no zesting or juicing is required! Just blitz them in a food processor and add to marinades, dressings and sauces!.
Care Advice and Tips
Citrus is notoriously quite difficult to grow successfully, but Limequats are one of the easier varieties as they are tolerant to lower temperatures. This means they make a great gift idea for anyone who has no experience of growing citrus in the past. They can be grown throughout the majority of the UK and Ireland (excluding some areas of Northern Scotland)
Limequats are self fertile however, if you want to increase your crop of fruit, you can help them along a little by pollinating the plant by hand. As soon as the flowers appear, take a cotton bud or small paintbrush and gently tickle the antheas to transfer the bright yellow pollen to the stigma. Watch a video here
We have some really special Limequat recipes going up on the blog over February, so please check back!