It’s full-on kumquat season. My tree is drooping with ripe, orange-gold. I eat the sweet-tart fruit like grapes, popping them into my mouth to savor the exotic taste of sour with a floral-sweet follow-up.
I love kumquats—the tree is so pretty with a perfect canopy of dark green leaves evenly ornamented with small golden orange ovoid fruit. It grows well in pots (in citrus appropriate climates, that is) and is a big producer. When kumquat season hits, it hits. And it’s surprising that people don’t know what to do with kumquats. Not only do I have an abundance from my own homestead in early spring, but my friends must too as bags of the citrus mysteriously appear at my gate. Bring ‘em on! I’ll slice them into pretty wheels to scatter on salads, I’ll muddle them into cocktails, bake them into cakes, and the family and I will brew pounds of smashed kumquats into a heavenly homebrew. When that’s all done, I’ll make intensely flavored marmalade to enjoy after the season is long gone.
Kumquat Marmalade (in about an hour! Really! Seven jars in one hour!)
The most time-consuming part of this recipe is removing the seeds from the kumquats. In this recipe I detail the easiest way I’ve figured out how to do this—I still one or two but it doesn’t diminish the flavor of this amazing jam one bit.
Makes about seven 8-ounce jars
3 cups kumquats, halved and seeded
5 cups sugar
3 whole star anise, optional
Set a strainer over a bowl. Cut the kumquats in half and squeeze the halves into the strainer. The bowl will catch the juice and the strainer will catch the seeds. Once squeezed, put the kumquat halves into the food processor. (Reserve the juice.) Using on/off turns, coarsely chop the kumquats. Bring the kumquats and the juice to a boil in a heavy large saucepan set over medium heat. Add the sugar and star anise if using and boil, stirring frequently (almost constantly. You don’t want the jam to scorch—but you leave it just long enough to do some tidying up) until the kumquat skins are tender and translucent (which happens to be when the marmalade is at the perfect “jelly” stage), about 12 minutes. Ladle the marmalade into jars. Cool, seal, can or refrigerate.