Beautiful baskets spilling over with cumquats (a.k.a. kumquats) are on display at local market stalls during Winter through to early Spring. One time, I bought a bagful of freshly picked fruits from a little old Vietnamese lady selling them on the footpath in Sydney's Cabramatta. They were the best I'd ever tasted!
Bright orange in colour, the cumquat is the about same shape and size as a large olive, but looks more like a tiny, elongated citrus fruit. Unlike citrus fruits, cumquats can be eaten whole, skin and all. A delicious treat for those who enjoy bittersweet flavours, the essential oils in the skin of the cumquat carry hints of orange, orange blossom, bergamot and lime.
With their attractive foliage, fragrant flowers and delicious fruits, cumquats make excellent container plants for small courtyards and, most certainly, kitchen gardens. Cumquats will grow in cooler climates, such as the Canberra region where I live, but should be protected from the frost when young.
Cumquats preserved in brandy are divine, particularly when spooned over home made vanilla bean ice cream. To make them, you will need to sterilise a 1.5 litre preserving jar. Boil the jar first and then place it into a 110 deg C oven on a baking tray lined with a tea towel for about 20 minutes. To preserve the cumquats in brandy, here is the method I use. It's based on a recipe given to me by a keen maker of jams and preserves. You will need about 650g cumquats. Wash and dry them and remove the little green stems, then prick each one a couple of times with a sterilised darning needle. Place the fruit into the prepared jar. Then pour in two cups of sugar and a 700ml bottle of brandy. Seal the jar and store it in a cool dark place. Gently turn it over once a day for about two months. The resulting liqueur is absolutely divine, almost like nectar.
For those who like marmalade, try this recipe reproduced as it stands from The Coronation Cookery Book (CWA, 1941): 'Slice fruit and add two pints of water to every pound of fruit, stand all night. Next day boil until tender and stand all night. Next day add one and a half pounds sugar to every one pound of fruit (cooked) and boil until it jellies, about 45 minutes.'
I'm currently re-arranging the web site and as such, this recipe, which previously appeared under the 'Market Basket' tab, has now been re-published on the recipes page.
Tell me dear readers, do you grow cumquats in your part of the world? Have you ever preserved them? How do you like to serve them? Do please share your recipe ideas here. I'd love to hear from you!
Hello. I'm Liz, a writer, cook and traveller based in Canberra, Australia.
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.