I was in Florida this past weekend to see my family and photograph my sister's dance studio's annual recital. It was a quick trip, filled with travel nightmares that I won't bore you with, but I scored something very special - fresh kumquats from a kumquat tree in my grandmother's backyard.
Have you ever had a kumquat? It's a citrus fruit and tastes like tangerine and orange. You eat the whole thing, skin and all. The skin is really sweet, but the pulp and juice inside is very sour. They're about the size of grapes. We used to have one in our backyard in Jacksonville when I was a kid. Then one year, it was suddenly a lemon tree. I should ask my dad about that, actually. Anyway, you can find out everything you never knew about kumquats on this site.
I wish I'd taken a picture of my grandmother's tree. Its branches were loaded and heavy with beautiful, little orange jewels. I told my dad I had the impulse to pick them, not knowing what I'd do with 5 cups of kumquats in Brooklyn, but he gave me a hand. Here's what I ended up with:
I did some research and found a simple, elegant recipe for kumquat marmalade on Gothamist.com, of all places. I like the suggestion of making this with Earl Grey tea, though I bet mint tea would be good, too, especially with a bit of fresh mint chiffonade. Hmm...
I started the first step this morning, chopping the kumquats up and soaking them. I spent an hour picking through the mixture to remove as many seeds as possible. It looks like risotto!
Needless to say, this was an annoying step, made all the more annoying by the fact that I mistakenly discarded all the seeds. The seeds contain the pectin that you need to have for the marmalade to gel together. Not a big deal, though - I can buy pectin.
Did you know that people in the UK call seeds "pips?" I thought that was cute and worth mentioning.
So this mess sits over night and, presumably, the fruit absorbs a lot of the water and plumps and makes it juicier. I'm not sure of the science here...
Lastly, I like to mention that this is my first ever attempt and canning (which is a misnomer - there aren't any cans involved). I have to now read up on how to can things, because I have no idea how to do it properly. I've somehow acquired a canning "kit" over the past few years, though, so that should come in handy. Sterilize the jars? Fill the jars with hot goo? Chill them? I don't know. Good luck to me.
That's really it for now. I need to buy small canning jars today, as well as pectin and maybe mint. Check back tomorrow (or the next day, because it's SO nice out in NYC now) for the results.
In fact, it's so nice out that I've been listening to my "happy mix" of Dolly Parton songs all morning, with "Light of a Clear Blue Morning" on repeat. That song is so fantastic.
Have a good day!