Last week we were invited at a Shabbos lunch in Jerusalem, and one of guests mentioned she had a kumquat tree brimming with beautiful and fragrant fruit growing in her backyard, but didn’t know how to use to its fullest. Any Kumquat ideas, she asked me?
Seems like a good problem to me: Lucky Yerushalmis! You bet I would know what to do with a kumquat tree. In the absence of a tree growing in your backyard (or worse, in the absence of a backyard), pick up a few pints at the produce market, and have fun playing with them. The diminutive fruit, Chinese in origin, is not just any orange wannabe and should be treated with the reverence it deserves. It has an intense citrus flavor and a pleasantly bitter bite, and a wonderful floral fragrance, making it equally at home for savory and sweet preparations. The whole fruit gets eaten, skin and all. Here are some simple recipes that come to mind, no need to be exact here.
Please note: NO peeling the kumquat. The kumquat gets used whole, peel and all, in every kumquat recipe.
- Kumquat Marmalade. 1 pound kumquat (about 2 cups), 1 pound lemons (2 nice size), quartered and seeded, 4 cups sugar, 4 cups water, juice of 2 lemons. Grind the whole fruit (peel and all) coarsely in a food processor. Bring all but last ingredient to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce the flame to medium, and cook about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Stir in the lemon juice. Store in wide-mouth glass jars and refrigerate. Makes about 3 pints.
- Kumquat Chutney. 2-inch piece fresh ginger, 1 medium onion quartered, 3 cups kumquat, 1 cup cider vinegar, 11/2 cups sugar, 3 tablespoons curry, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 cups water. In a food processor, finely grind the ginger, onion and kumquat, using the pulse button, making sure you don't turn the mixture to a puree (you want a fine texture). Bring the ground mixture and all remaining ingredients to a boil in a saucepan, then reduce the flame to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes. Transfer the mixture to wide-mouth glass jars and refrigerate. The mixture will thicken as it cools. Makes about 3 pints.
- Kumquat Cranberry Relish: 2 cups kumquat, 1 cup cranberries, 1/2 cup mint leaves packed, 1/4 cup sugar, good pinch cayenne, Salt and pepper to taste. Grind all ingredients in a food processor, using the pulse button. Store refrigerated in a glass jar. Delicious with roast meat, poultry or fish.
- Kumquat Salsa: 2 cups kumquat diced small, 1 small onion minced, 1 jalapeno, sliced very thin, 4-5 sprigs cilantro minced, 5-6 sprigs flat parsley minced, 1/4 cup olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Serve as condiment with grilled burgers, steak or chicken.
- Kumquat Meat Sauce: Strain the cooking liquids of your cooked roast or turkey in a saucepan (about 2 cups: if you don't have quite this amount, complete with water), 1 cup kumquat sliced thin, 1/2 cup dry sherry or sweet vermouth, salt and pepper to taste, 1 sprig rosemary. Bring all ingredients to a boil in a saucepan, and cook on a high flame about 5 minutes, or a little longer, until the sauce is thick and syrupy. Discard the rosemary. Serve over sliced meat or poultry.
- Kumquat in Salads: Slice very thinly in a green leaf salad, with diced avocado, sliced fennel and diced green apple. Toss with a simple lemon and olive oil dressing.