Tangy, tantalising cumquats
CITRUS season. Mmmmm … and it’s great to get a big hit of vitamin C just when we need it most. However, one must be an aficionado of sharp flavours to enjoy the taste of a cumquat. The small, round-to-oval bright orange fruit are a bit of a mouth-puckering assault on the palate when eaten fresh (my salivary glands are in full squirt as I write this), but they come into their own for marmalade, jams and preserves.
When cooking marmalade, the addition of natural pectin from the seeds and juice of a lemon will aid in the setting of the preserve. Remember, with all marmalade recipes the fruit requires soaking overnight, so leave yourself some extra time.
Makes 5x300ml jars INGREDIENTS: ◗ 1kg cumquats, washed and quartered (keep the seeds) ◗ 1L water ◗ juice and seeds of 2 lemons ◗ 1kg sugar
METHOD: Place prepared fruit in plastic container with a lid, cover with the water and soak overnight. Put three saucers into the freezer. Place seeds of cumquats and lemons in a cup and cover with a little boiling water; soak overnight. Strain liquid from the seeds, keeping the liquid. Discard the seeds and add that water to the fruit. Cook gently on a low heat, stirring occasionally, until the fruit is tender and the liquid is reduced by half; about 30 minutes. You can do this step in a pressure cooker if you have one; the fruit will cook in about 5-8 minutes.
Add the sugar and lemon juice, stirring gently; turn up the heat and boil rapidly until the mixture jells (around 30-45 minutes). Stir often, or the marmalade will burn. To test if the marmalade is jelling, spoon a little on to one of the cold saucers. If a skin forms, and it glazes on the surface and wrinkles when touched, it is ready. Turn the heat off under the saucepan while you are testing it. If it is still runny, turn the heat back up and boil for a little longer (3-4 minutes); test again. Pour into hot sterilised jars and seal.
◗ Cumquats, in season now, make a delicious tangy marmalade.