Tuesday, 19 August 2008

All that Zest - Cumquat Marmalade

Photo & Bread by Eva

Cumquat (Aus) / Kumquat (USA, UK) / kin kan (Jap) / aranja de ouro (Brazil) is native to China and means "gold orange". Fresh cumquats can be eaten raw (skin and all) or easily preserved whole in syrup. Sticking to seasonal cooking and keeping with the Beijing Olympic theme, I present to you, Cumquat Marmalade.

Making marmalade is a real winter treat since it’s citrus and slow-cooking season. A refreshing aroma also permeates through the whole house - it's my kind of aromatherapy! But move over Seville, blood and navel oranges....cumquat marmalade is our current favourite. No traces of bitterness and the perfect balance of sweet and sour. However, not everyone likes marmalade, so I am usually slightly hesitant about giving it away as a gift unless I know that the recipient is a fan.

My friend Eva (of Sweet Sins) was the lucky recipient of a jar of this marmalade ("lucky" because Quikong originally wanted to keep it all for himself! He is a marmalade fanatic). I'll link Eva's post here when it's ready so that you can hear what a non-marmalade fan thought about this particular cumquat marmalade and also for Eva's recipe of this gorgeous looking bread. She ran out of rye flour and used maize flour instead - clever girl! (Thanks to Eva as well for these lovely photos!)

Photo & Bread by Eva

Winter Fruit
With mid-late winter being the height of cumquat season in NSW, we were lucky enough to be able to freshly pick (for free!) a kilo of home-grown cumquats at a homestead/vineyard that we were staying at in the Hunter Valley region last month. The lemon I used in this recipe was also home-grown from a neighbour's garden.

Cumquat Marmalade
Adapted from The Produce Bible (by Leanne Kitchen)

1kg unwaxed, organically grown cumquats
1.25L (5 cups) water
1 large lemon, juice (about ¼ cup) & zest
1.25 kg sugar
muslin cloth


(a) 24hrs before – Prepare the fruit:
Wash and dry the fruit. If waxed, scrub the kumquats under running water to remove any wax. Place a sieve over a large non-reactive container (with a lid), pot or bowl. Cut each fruit in half and squeeze out the juice over the sieve. Collect the pips and place it in a piece of muslin cloth. Tie it securely & place it in the container together with the juice. Using a sharp knife (I used a kitchen scissors), cut the peel finely or coarsely, according to your preference. Add the peel and water in the container with the bag of pips and the juice. Cover and leave to soak overnight or for 24 hours. This helps to extract the maximum amount of pectin from the fruit pulp and pips, which will give a better set. It also helps to soften the peel, which will reduce the amount of cooking needed.

Soaking Cumquats Overnight with Bag of Pips

(b) Next day:
- Place 2 saucers in the freezer.
- Place the cumquats, water, pip bag, lemon juice and lemon zest in a large saucepan. Bring the contents slowly to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 30 to 45 minutes.
- While cumquats are simmering, warm* the sugar by spreading it in a into a large roasting tin/baking dish and putting in the pre-heated oven (150-170°C) for 10 to 15 minutes or until warmed through. (I used a microwave).
- When the cumquat is tender, tip the warmed sugar into the saucepan and stir over low heat, without boiling, until dissolved. Return to a boil. Boil rapidly and stir often for 20-30 minutes.
- When the syrup falls from a wooden spoon in rather thick sheets, remove saucepan from heat and put a small amount on a saucer that has been chilled in the freezer and briefly return it to the freezer. Check it in a minute or two - it should be slightly jelled and will wrinkle just a bit when you slide your finger through it. If not, continue to cook until it is. (Quikong prefers a thicker set, so I cooked the marmalade for a bit longer).
- Remove the bag of seeds when the marmalade is done. Wait for about 10-20 minutes before ladling into hot sterilized jars to prevent the zest from floating to the top. You can then safely store it in canning jars, freeze it, or keep it in the fridge. Makes about 6-7 cups.

Store in a cool, dark place for 6 to 12 months. Refrigerate after opening for up to 6 weeks. Too much light is not good for storage, while a damp or steamy atmosphere can cause mould to develop on the surface of the marmalade.

- Use Earl Grey or Jasmine tea instead of water.
- Add half a dried-out vanilla bean to each jar.
- If you like a darker, Oxford-style marmalade, then add 1 tbsp treacle when you add the sugar.

Marmalades are not just for toast:
Don't just spread it on a buttered toast! Warm it up slightly and use it as a glaze for cakes (e.g. cheesecake), swirl it through a chocolate cake mixture before baking it or to fill vegan thumbprint cookies. And don't forget savoury dishes like glazing roast duck, chicken or carrots.

*What do you think?
I’m not convinced that warming the sugar actually does anything, but many recipes mention it. If someone has scientific or even anecdotal evidence to back this up, I’d be interested to hear from you.

Photo & Bread by Eva


Eva said...

I'm still enjoying this marmelade (too bad that I'll have to leave it in the fridge while being in Germany), it's by far the best marmelade I've ever tried!

I've never heard of warming the sugar first and would be greatly surprised if it does anything at all...

Nora B. said...

So glad that you enjoyed the marmalade, Eva.

Maybe your new apartment guest will finish off your marmalade while you are in Germany... ;-)

Lucy said...

How funny! I just made 17 jars of lemon and vanilla marmalade...there's something on the wind, obviously.

No idea about that sugar warming, though...

The cumquat tree in our front garden is about to deliver tonnes of ripe little bombs. Can't wait to try ths.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I love to use marmalade to glaze my tart shells, but I'm far too lazy to make my own. Yours looks beautiful -- lucky Eva!

tigerfish said...

Perfect! I used to like marmalade but commercial marmalade has too much preservatives. How I wish I could have homemade ones like this. Well, you know I'm not clever at such things.

Lotta said...

Hello again:)

Now you can go to my blogg again if you want.
You can translate my text now. I fixed for you;)Look for translate only...

Love your recept so much but i need translate to swedish;)


Nora B. said...

Lucy - 17 jars! wow...I've not combined lemon and vanilla before. I'd be curious to read about your marmalade adventure :-)

I'm so envious that you have your own cumquat tree!!


Lydia - Thank you! Glazing tart shells with marmalade is a great way to prevent it from getting soggy. Thanks for that tip.


Tigerfish - Homemade is really the best, isn't it. This is super easy to do, I am sure that you will be able to make it yourself. Give it a go when winter sets in.


Lotta - Fabulous!!! I've just added the translate function on my blog as well. :-)


kathryn said...

A friend of ours used to have a fcumquat tree. She hated the fruit, so each year we'd benefit from her wonderful harvest. Until two years ago she uprooted the tree and planted a whole lot of natives. Yes they're pretty, but no more cumquats.

In my opinion it's the best tasting marmalade around.

I've made marmalade both with warming the sugar and without and I really can't see there's much difference. I prefer to put the sugar straight in the pan, rather than adding in an extra "process".

Jeena said...

Wow how great is this recipe! It looks better than any marmalade I have ever seen in the shops!

Mike of Mike's Table said...

I wish I had made some of this when they were available in my neck of the woods. Ah well, next year--because that sounds delicious!

Bellini Valli said...

This may just be a marmalade that I'd go for. I do like kumquats:D

Meghan said...

Nora... this looks wonderful! I've always wanted to do something with these little gems... thanks for the good "how-to" here!

Big Boys Oven said...

cuvvweqoh! this is such a lovely marmalade, just amazing, love that you had share this with us and also your reders, cool babe!

Jeff said...

How can you go wrong with free kumquats? You don't even want to know how much people want to charge for the little buggers around here.

I also like the idea of adding a vanilla bean.

Shaun said...

Nora B. ~ Your cumquat marmalade looks sensational. I love its bright colour - it is glowing with health. Cumquats are such an ideal fruit for preserving because of their natural pectin. I am thinking of making this now as I have not made any preserves before.

Cynthia said...

I'm jealous. Eva got cumquat marmalade. I have never seen or tasted cumquat.

Valentina said...

I do love marmelade but i really love new flavours. I am taking notes of your recipe so that i can try it when we start getting them in the UK.

Toni said...

I adore marmalade, and love kumquats. I've usually just popped them into my mouth while they're fresh. This looks almost too easy!

Gloria (Canela) said...

Dear Nora I dont know yet this lovely fruits but I heard a lot!! Lovelies pictures and the jam look so nice!!! xxGloria

Half Baked said...

Oooh I love cumquats and this marmalade looks very tasty!

katiez said...

Your marmalade is beautiful... Mon mari would eat the whole thing himself... I would too, but more slowly. I've never tasted a cumquat... Now that I know how to eat them I'll buy a few if I ever see them (expensive here) Thanks for the tips ;-))

Kevin said...

That Marmalade looks so good spread over that toast. I like the large visible zest in it.

Lotta said...


Here i Sweden we now waith for the ( ah you know after summer and before winter? i dont remember the name;)

My englisch are not so good. so dificult to speak and write before i do it more often... *smile*

I,m going to fix a recept in my blogg for you today. so you can translate it.

We have a lot of cheese here in sweden so I hope you have that in Sidney.
This Pie is a cheese-pie a very good one:)

Have a nice day//Lotta

Warda said...

- It looks amazing. The texture looks perfect! Lucky Eva!

Lotta said...

Hello again!

Your swedish was very good:)

Parmesan is maybe okey but if you find a sheese like "Gouda from Holland" for example you try it first and you can have 100 gr parmesan and 250 gr Gouda.
My husband is a cook so he say this to my. Gouda is more like our sheese and a creamsheese (hard one).

If there any same product our spices we want to post over our countryes so I love to do It but mayby Astralien dont like have post with food and so one...sorry for my bad english Hihi
You can look up for it if you want?

Have a nice day or night;)


Nora B. said...

Kathryn - awwww, too bad about the cumquat tree! I also think that this warming up the sugar step is just a myth.


Jeena - Thanks!


Mike - This cumquat is pretty yum! I am envying your cherry jam & if it gets cheap enough during cherry season here, I'm making my own cherry jam as well.


Val - Yay!!! :-)


Meghan - No worries. I hope that you'll make some when it's in season.


Sunny - Thank you!


Jeff - Free did make it even nice :-)


Shaun - This so unbelievably easy but the results soooo wonderful. You should definite give it a go!


Cynthia - So sorry, dear....I would give you a jar if you lived closer.


Valentina - Let me know what you think when you get round to making some. I really think it's the best kind of marmalade.


Toni - it is too easy. The only annoying part was slicing these tiny fruits.


Gloria - Thanks dear. I wish you could try some!


Half-Baked - It was! Luckily I still have 2 more jars of it. We are going through them too quickly!


Katie - Your hubby sounds like my Quikong. If I didn't stop him, that's exactly what he would do.


Warda - Thanks! Eva seems to be enjoying it, so that makes me happy :-)

Nora B. said...

Hälsningar Lotta!! :-)

Tack igen för råvarorna och även till din man för förslaget om ost. Vi har Gouda här, så jag ska prova det. Det andra problemet är att översätta recept i cups eller oz (ounces). Men jag är säker på att det kommer att fungera ut böter. :-)

x Nora

Kate / Kajal said...

Hey Nora, that kumqat marmalade has got me craving some. I simply adore these little babies, but havent had them in such a long time. I first discovered them in HK , but hvent managed to lay my hands on some here in africa. Hmmm... this post is such a tease .. :p

Robyn said...

While warming the sugar before adding it to the pan is not absolutely imperative in a jam recipe and won't affect the final outcome, it does speed up the dissolving process. The sugar dissolves more quickly and, being warm, will not reduce the temperature of the fruit mixture as much as if you had added cold sugar. To warm sugar, spread it in an even layer in a deep-sided baking dish and warm in a slow oven 150C for about 10 - 15 minutes, or until warmed through. Do not overheat the sugar or it will start to lump together. To make sure, stir the sugar once or twice while it is warming.