Recipe: Kumquat Marmalade
Reason 786 to cook: The little triumphs. It can be difficult to feel triumphant on a regular basis, what with prices on everything taking skyward leaps and kids (my Quinn, specifically) getting ticked at you for pouring too little milk and the world in general just feeling all in shambles if you look at it just right. But triumphant is exactly what I felt after attempting and succeeding in the making of my very own, very first marmalade.
I love marmalade’s tart-sweet quality. I love it mixed in eggs (seriously, it’s tops) and spread atop thick, crusty slices of whole wheat English muffin bread. I love looking at it, thick with sugar, bright with color, strips of candied rind suspended in the jelly. I love being privy to a process, to knowing how something (marmalade!) all comes together. And to say that I made it, little me, with the cheesecloth and the stirring and the boiling and the jarring. Who knew?
I’d never thought to make such a thing before, but then came the call from Pixie and Rosie and their “Putting Up” blogging event, and I had an almost-pound of kumquats sitting in the fridge. Deserted, those little gems of citrus were, potentially destined for the place where unwanted produce goes to waste because none of us could quite chew on them – this particular container of kumquats was an especially sour bunch. So I enlisted Emmie, and the two of us gave the kumquats their due. You could say that food blogging saved the kumquats, and for that we are all grateful.
Adapted from The Produce Bible, by Leanne Kitchen
Makes 7 cups
2 lbs (7 cups) kumquats
5 cups water
¼ cup lemon juice
5 2/3 cups sugar, warmed
4-inch square of cheesecloth
Scrub the kumquats under running water to remove any wax. Cut the fruit in half lengthwise, reserving any seeds, then slice thinly. Place in a large nonmetal bowl with the water. Tie seeds in the cheesecloth and add to the bowl. Cover and leave overnight.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Put a small plate in the freezer. Place kumquats, water, lemon juice and cheesecloth bag in a large saucepan. Bring slowly to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 30 to 45 minutes or until fruit is tender. While fruit is simmering, warm sugar by spreading in a baking dish and putting in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until warmed through.
When fruit is tender, add the warmed sugar and stir over low heat, without boiling, until dissolved, about 5 minutes. Return to a boil and boil rapidly, stirring often for 20 minutes. When the syrup falls from a wooden spoon in thick sheets, remove from heat and test for setting point by putting a tablespoon of marmalade onto one of the cold plates. Put the plate with the marmalade in the freezer for 30 seconds. A skin should form on the surface and the marmalade will wrinkle when pushed with your finger. If not set, return the plate to the freezer. Return the marmalade to the heat and retest a few minutes later. Discard the cheesecloth bag.
Carefully ladle into hot sterilized jars and seal. Allow to cool, then label and date each jar. Store in a cool, dark place for 6 to 12 months. Refrigerate after opening for up to 6 weeks.