Isn’t spring time just wonderful? It’s as if the world wakes up again. Flowers begin to bloom, the temperature begins to rise and of course the spring produce. I was a little too excited when I saw that asparagus was making an appearance in the grocery stores again. Believe it or not, I would pick some green veggies over a dessert any day. I’m crazy, I know.
One thing I do love almost as equally as vegetables is citrus. I love the way it looks, I love the way it smells and obviously I love the taste. We were over at E’s grandparents house for a special Sunday lunch where she made a delicious shrimp pasta and I had noticed a gorgeous kumquat tree in her front yard. I just go crazy when I spot a citrus tree, I am absolutely obsessed, maybe it’s because I grew up in Portland where it would literally be impossible to grow any form of citrus tree there. Anyway, I managed to tell her how beautiful I thought the tree was (in Italian, mind you) and two days later she came knocking on my door with a huge bag full of them. Oh happy day!
Kumquats are a little different than other types of citrus because you pop the whole thing in your mouth. (peel and all!) No, this is not a joke. The peel is surprisingly the sweetest part. I had to convince E to try at least one. It’s a pet peeve of mine when someone doesn’t try something at least once to know if you like it or not. Well okay, hand me a plate of cow brains and I will tell you no, but you get the point. Since I knew I would be the only one in the household to eat them I decided I would try to make a marmalade. Thinking about a piece of whole grain toast with kumquat marmalade and a cup of tea was enough to convince myself.
I’m going to tell you the truth because that’s what we do here, and the truth of the matter is the first time I experimented this marmalade it turned out very bitter and not what I was expecting. (There goes my morning toast and tea party idea), I was pretty disappointed but I didn’t lose hope. The next time I saw E’s mom I told her what had happened and the wise woman that she is told me that with her experiences it was best to soak the citrus a few times in water to help the acidity disappear. And so the love story continued… It turned out bounissimo and ready for the toast. Party time.
Makes; three petite jars
1 pound of kumquats
2 cups of granulated sugar
1 cup water
Wash your kumquats well with water through a strainer. Now for the tedious task of cutting up the kumquats in thin slices and picking out all the seeds. SEEDS, SEEDS, SEEDS EVERYWHERE! It’s worth it in the end, you have to trust me. Fill a large bowl of water and place the kumquat slices inside and cover with a tea towel, making sure the water is covering all of them. You will need to leave them in their “bath” for 8 hours before you change the water and then leave them again overnight.
Next day strain the kumquats and put them in a large pot. Add one cup of new water in the pot along with the sugar. Cook over medium to low heat for about an hour stirring every once in a while and skimming the top if there is foam. A great tip to make sure your marmalade is ready is putting a plate in the freezer for 15 minutes and when you take it out add a little spoonful of marmalade on the plate and it will be set if it starts to become wrinkly and doesn’t run.
Take your jars (sterilized of course) and spoon the hot marmalade inside until full and screw on the cap. Now you must turn the jar upside down until it is completely cool to seal it. I learned this tip from my grandma who makes the world’s most amazing raspberry jam. (Oh how I miss it)
Now you have your own natural marmalade without added preservatives. How fantastic is that? Other ideas to use this marmalade if you (somehow) don’t enjoy toast as much as I do..
Add a little dish of this next time you do a cheese platter to spice things up, on top of a cheesecake or even make a bruschetta platter with a mild cheese such as brie. Kumquat crepes anyone? The options are endless.