Preserving fruit and making fresh jam is one of my favorite things to do. I am lucky enough to have a backyard with an organic vegetable garden and a nice assortment of fruit trees. I planted my miniature kumquat tree about 4 years ago now, and I think it missed the message that it was a dwarf, the fruit is so abundant that you can barely see the tree. I am not complaining by any means, the more fruit the better and I put it to good use.
Recently I was skimming through some old jamming and preserving books and I had read a recipe that called for warming sugar before adding it to fruit. The warming process allowed the marmalade or jam to stay fresher, due to the temperature remaining higher and thus, quicker cooking times. Another technique that I had not tried, was to soak the seeds of the fruit overnight before making marmalade and using the water as a natural pectin. Well, I put both methods to work in this recipe and wow, the outcome was fantastic — incredibly fresh, slightly tangy kumquat marmalade.
If you don’t have a kumquat tree, the farmers market usually carries fresh kumquats this time of year or better yet, find a friend with a tree because chances are, they aren’t using them all anyways. I love to spread this marmalade on homemade rye bread or biscuits and it is especially nice on a PB&J at lunch.
(Makes 3 – 8 ounce jars + 4 ounces)
1 pound fresh kumquats
2 pounds granulated sugar
3 – 8 ounce jars, preserving, refrigerator or freezer jars
1 – 4 ounce jar, preserving, refrigerator or freezer jars
1. The night before you plan on making marmalade, slice the kumquats in half and remove any visible seeds. Place the sliced kumquats in one large bowl and fill with water, just to cover. Place the seeds in another small bowl and add 8-ounces of water to cover. Cover with bowls with plastic wrap and refrigerator overnight.
2. When ready to make marmalade, remove the plastic wrap from both bowls. Using a slotted spoon remove the kumquats and slice each half into quarters. Reserve the water from both the kumquats and the seeds, strain the seeds over the bowl of kumquat water. Then, add the sliced kumquats back into the reserved water and discard the seeds.
3. Next, add the kumquats and water to a large pot over medium-high heat and boil. Turn the heat to simmer and place a lid on the pot, continue simmering for 30 minutes.
4. After 30 minutes, remove the lid and turn the heat up to medium-high and cook until the liquid has reduced by one-third, about 15 minutes.
5. In another pan, add the sugar and turn the heat to medium-low to warm while stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Make sure the heat isn’t too high or the sugar will start to cook. When the liquid in the kumquats has reduced, add the warmed sugar.
6. Stir the kumquats until the sugar is dissolved and continue to cook the marmalade over medium heat for 15 minutes. The marmalade will foam up, but continue to cook. You can skim off any discolored foam if necessary, but you will lose product during the process. Turn the heat off and sterilize jars, if using to process for longer storage.
7. Ladle the marmalade into the cleaned jars and place in a water to heat for 30 minutes. Remove from the water and let cool to room temperature. *If you are making refrigerator or freezer jam, ladle into clean jars and place lid on top and let cool, before putting them in the refrigerator or freezer.
8. Put labels on the front of each jar and place in a dark dry place until ready to eat. I like to use the smaller jar right away and store the others for a later date or give away as gifts. Spread the kumquat marmalade on fresh bread with a little smear of butter. Enjoy!