Behind the Scenes: Kumquats Edition
We’ve been jarring Kumquats for a couple of years but only recently when a customer asks us how we preserve them that we realized we never share the process with you. Preserving these tiny oranges is a very joyous process since they are so delicious and only available this time of year.
There are no secret ingredients or special procedures, unfortunately, so please don’t keep your hopes up. All it really requires are good kumquats and patience.
To prove it we’ll explain in detail.
Our method starts by procuring the best kumquats we can get our hands on. In this case it happens to be from Rancho Del Sol Organics, an organic farm in San Diego California operated by Linda and Bill. The type we use are called Nagami Kumquats, which are somewhat oval and quite sour.
After receiving the fruit, we wash them and grade them accordingly to size. A small kumquat takes less time to cook than a big one. We then make a small horizontal slit on the top of each fruit. It shouldn’t be more than a quarter inch deep. This will allow the marinade to permeate the fruit. An alternative option would be to use a toothpick, cake tester or ice pick to prick the kumquats all over. This is a more tedious process with a high probability of pricking your fingers, so we prefer the knife.
Next, we place the kumquats in a large pot with water, add a pinch of salt, bring to a boil then reduce to a gentle simmer until they become somewhat tender. Stir slowly every so often for even cooking. Depending on the batch size, it will take anywhere from twenty-five to forty-five minutes. The most important part of this step is not letting the water come to a rolling boil for an extended period. You will end up with marmalade instead of whole kumquats. They will still be delicious but not what we set out to do.
After the kumquats are cooked, we carefully drain the water, treating them like small brittle gems. Add fresh water and organic sugar to the mixture, heat it without letting it boil. This step is temperature sensitive, which is key to achieve the texture we like. We repeat this process a couple of times, each time adding more sugar and water. This step takes a good amount of patience since the kumquats need to cool completely in the syrup before they can be heated again.
When the desired texture is achieved, we shift our attention to flavor. Our goal is for the kumquats to taste like, you guessed it, kumquats, so not much else is needed. To give the preserved fruit some depth of flavor, we create a simple solution with water, sugar, vinegar, and fresh spices, simmer and then jar the kumquats with that liquid. The result is a little tang to contrast the sweetness.
How to Enjoy Preserved Kumquats
Serving recommendations include putting them on a ricotta toast with a pot of good Taiwanese black tea (we suggest our Jade Rouge for the occasion) or atop roasted chicken, pork, or even a curry. The liquid can be used to make a shrub or a cocktail. It’s very versatile. The moral of the story is that preserving kumquats is quite easy. It’s basically water, organic sugar, delicious kumquats, a pinch of salt and a dash of vinegar. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do.