Have you ever tried a fresh cumquat? It’s an experience. It’s the only citrus fruit where the whole fruit can be popped into the mouth and eaten. Weirdly, the skin and pith are very sweet and the flesh is extremely sour and both parts of the cumquat are required to balance the flavours.
I love slicing up cumquat and adding them to salads. It adds a wonderful citrus-y brightness to every mouthful.
However, a little goes a long way with cumquat and there is only just so much that can be added to salads. I have a little tree in my backyard that yields pounds of cumquat! So the next favourite thing to do with cumquat is to make marmalade.
After picking all the ripe fruit, I had 2.5 kilograms of cumquat to work with. The next step was to wash it very carefully. I can’t tell you how important this step is. I filled the sink with water and rubbed each fruit individually to take off any dust, scale or soot that might be on it. You will be surprised at the junk that is left behind. Rinse the fruit a few times and leave it to drain.
I use this washing step for all citrus fruit that I use.
The next big task was to slice up the fruit. I decided to cut it into 4mm wide discs. I sometimes cut cumquat into wedges but decided that I was going to go with the disc shape this time. It took me three hours to complete this lot.
Place the sliced fruit into a heavy bottomed pan and cover the fruit with water. I let this soak overnight. I have skipped this step in the past and found that when the fruit is not soaked, it doesn’t breakdown during the cooking process. The resulting jam has large, firm pieces of fruit that makes it more difficult to spread.
The next day I cooked the soaked cumquat and added the sugar when the fruit had softened and the liquid had reduced by a quarter. Make sure to stir the mixture frequently so that it doesn’t burn at the bottom of the pan. If you do find it’s burning, reduce the heat.
Qumquat do have a high sugar content and it can burn very easily, even before the sugar is added.
I don’t add a lot of sugar as I like the jam to be bright and tangy like the fruit. This does result in a softer marmalade that’s more like a very thick syrup. It goes equally well on top of ice-cream as well as on toast. I hope you enjoy your marmalade.
Note: For cumquat marmalade I use a weight ratio of 2:1 for the fruit and sugar. So for every 2 kilos of fruit, I use 1 kilo of sugar. If you have a smaller quantity of fruit, adjust the sugar accordingly.
2.5 kg cumquats
1.2 kg sugar
Wash the cumquats carefully and drain them. Slice the cumquats into wedges or discs depending on your preference. Place it in a large heavy bottomed pan and add water until it is just covered. Make sure the pot is large enough to hold the cumquats as the level will increase once the sugar is added.
Soak the fruit overnight.
Wash and sterilise the jam bottles and cut the waxed paper into squares that will cover the top of the bottles.
Bring the water and fruit mixture to a boil and keep boiling until the fruit is soft. The level of the mixture should also drop by a quarter. Stir frequently to prevent burning at the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat if this happens.
Once the fruit is soft, add the sugar and keep boiling until it becomes syrupy. Test to see if the jam is ready by placing a drop of the hot mixture on a cold ceramic plate. Leave it aside for a minute to cool. Push the drop with your finger. If the top wrinkles as it’s pushed, the jam is ready. Pour it into the prepared bottles and cover it with the waxed paper. Leave it to cool and dry completely, so that there is no condensation on the paper, before placing the lid on the jars.