February 29, 2008

A wild tear leads to... kumquat marmalade?

You know how sometimes an idea just pops in your head and you can't shake it? I'm sure this happens to everyone, just changing forms to match their passions or interests. For me, this usually involves food, sometimes it's a gradual process, but sometimes an idea just slaps me in the face and I end up going to extreme lengths to satisfy the compulsion.

Last week I had just such a moment and in the course of seeing this idea through, I've already made something that I'd never made before, and didn't think I even liked. What is this dubious and daring creation? Marmalade, and not just marmalade, but kumquat marmalade. Believe it or not, but that is two strikes against this recipe. While I've always liked the idea of kumquats, the reality has never done much for me. And marmalade is like the strange, awkward cousin of those other sweet condiments that I mostly loathe - jelly and jam.

Somehow, none of that mattered. I called my local co-op, "Do you have kumquats? Or if you don't, are you getting any more in?" Alas, the answer was "no" and "probably not." Oh well, that won't stop the beast in my mind, driving me to bring this harebrained idea to fruition. But then, I got a call - they did get more kumquats in, so I drove over there and grabbed a small bag of the small, seedy fruits.

Two days, and a few blog searches later, I had found the inspiration for my marmalade. My biggest complaint about jams, jellies, and marmalades is that they're too sweet, so I reduced the sugar and tweaked the process a little. The result is something that could lose a little sugar still, but for the most part I'm really happy with - and more surprising, I genuinely enjoy. It is fantastic on a hunk of crusty baguette. So look to see a few uses for my new stash over the next few posts (including the idea that started this all).

I'm also going to grab up a few more kumquats and make another batch. There may be few tweaks in store for this recipe, and if those tweaks are successful, I'll update this post.

Kumquat Marmalade
Adapted from A Life (Time) of Cooking


275 g kumquats
500 g sugar
1 vanilla bean
1 Tbs orange liqueur


Wash the kumquats and set in a colander to drain. Slice the kumquats into thin rounds and capture as much of the juice as possible, adding it to the bowl of sliced kumquats. I used a mandoline for the first half of each kumquat and then switched to a paring knife to remove the seeds and finish slicing the now softer kumquat. Save the seeds in a small bowl of water.

When you're done slicing the kumquats, pour enough boiling water over them to submerge them by about an inch (you'll have to estimate this a little since the slices will float a little). Cover the bowl (either with a tight fitting lid or plastic wrap), and place in the refrigerator at least over night (I left them for about 24 hours). Cover the sees and place in the refrigerator as well.

The next day, pour the kumquat/water mixture into a large pot and place over medium heat. Cut the vanilla bean in half and then split each half open lengthwise. Scrape out the black "caviar" interior and add both the bean and the "caviar" to the pot. Stir occasionally and bring to a light boil for 20 minutes.

Add the sugar to the kumquats and bring back to a boil. Watch the mixture carefully now since it may start to thicken and may burn on the bottom. In a small pan bring the seeds and at least a 1/2 cup of water to boil. Adding enough water to keep the seeds submerged as it evaporates.

Let each pot boil for about 30 minutes and then strain the "seed" water into the kumquat mixture. This adds pectin and flavor to the marmalade. Stir the marmalade well and let it cook for another 5-10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the liqueur.

If you're going to can this prepare your jars in advance based on your own preferred method - I'm going to stay out of the debate over what's safe and what's not - there are plenty of opinions out there. Google "canning" if you need help.

Otherwise you can let it cool slightly, put it in any covered container, and refrigerate it. It will probably stay good for a few weeks.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

YAY! Thanks for being brave enough to make this marmarlade. It is one of my favourites.

My jars kept for ages in the fridge, but as you reduce the sugar, so the length of time that it will keep will be reduced. Good idea to make small batches often.

Can I now challenge you to make quince jelly when autumn comes to your part of the world again? Last time I made it, my Hong Kong Chinese boarder ate every last drop of it. Not as sweet as regular jams and jellies, she adored it.