Small batch kumquat marmalade

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One of the beautiful things about Winter is the explosion of citrus—a burst of sunshine amidst all that dreary cold weather. Mother Nature takes care of us, doesn’t she?

My mother has a couple of citrus trees that are exploding with fruit right now. Jack and I have been checking them every week waiting for them to ripen. Finally, the kumquats have gotten big, fat and super sweet. I think I ate as many as I picked off the tree. Mmmmrrmm, good.

But there’s no way I can eat that many kumquats so I went looking for ways to preserve them. Opposite of a traditional orange the peel of a kumquat is sweet while the inside is bitter, therefore, it’s important to do something that uses the rind.

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As it happens, orange marmalade is my favorite spread so kumquat marmalade seemed a logical direction. I’ve never made it before, but most of the recipes that I checked online complain about the labor intensity. Ugh. Long drawn out recipes are so not for me. I don’t have that kind of time. So, I tried a few different things and found a tip that gets you marmalade in a snap.

Here are the ups and downs. See if it works for you.

The biggest pain in the behind is separating the seeds and guts from the rind of the kumquat. Everyone complained about how time consuming that can be. Why do it?

Basically, you only want to cook down the rinds for your marmalade. However, you want to save the seeds/guts, which contain natural pectin, and wrap them in a cheese cloth to cook WITH the rinds in order to thicken and stickify the marmalade. In the end you’ll pluck the bundled up guts out and throw it away.

Some people recommend cutting the kumquats in half horizontally and using a melon baller to scoop out the insides. My verdict: YUCK!

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Others recommended quartering the kumquats and cutting out the guts. My verdict: SUPER YUCK! I have had more fun watching paint dry!

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Finally, I figured out a method that was super fast, easy and relatively mess-free, giving you perfect clean skins and kumquat bodies every time.

You slice the kumquats in half length-wise.

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Then point the flesh away from you and invert the kumquat inside out. The skin and guts will begin to separate pretty easily.

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And voila, you’ll have beautiful kumquat skins in no time.

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Gather up the guts and seeds in a large piece of cheese cloth. I ended up putting everything in my favorite nut milk bag and it worked great.

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Squeeze out as much juice as you can. You’ll witness the pectin from the thickness of the juice.

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Then, you’re supposed to slice up the rinds in long thin matchsticks, but I don’t have patience for that, so I threw them all into my little hand held mini-chop and went to town on it.

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Next, weigh your rinds. This recipe’s ratio is based upon weight. I ended up with about 1 pound of rinds.

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To this I added 1 pound of sugar. Instead of white sugar I used coconut sugar, which is a lot lower on the GI scale. It’s also brown, so expect it to darken the marmalade quite a bit. If you’re using traditional white sugar, the marmalade will stay fairly light.

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At this point you can also add spices (cinnamon sticks, allspice, cloves) to your bag of guts (that sounds weird, doesn’t it? Bag of guts. Who says that?) although no spices are necessary, so don’t feel like you need to give in to peer pressure or anything. Stand strong! Or don’t. Whatever makes you happy.

Now, dump everything in a non-reactive pot, add 2 cups of water and bring to a rolling boil, uncovered.

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Once it starts boiling, turn the temp down to medium-high to keep it mildly bubbling up for the next 45 to 60 minutes or until the water evaporates off and the concoction thickens.

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Stir occasionally only after the first 15 minutes to keep the marmalade from burning on the bottom.

And then ta da! You’ve got marmalade.

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Enjoy!

Kumquat marmalade
makes 1 pint

1 pound kumquat rinds (about 4 cups of whole kumquats)
1 pound sugar
2 cups water

  1. Separate kumquats rinds and guts/seeds.
  2. Save guts/seeds in cheese cloth bundle and squeeze juice from pulp into cooking pot.
  3. Slice up kumquat rinds.
  4. Add kumquat rinds to guts bundle and juice in a non-reactive cooking pot.
  5. Add sugar and water then bring to rolling boil.
  6. Once boiling lower the temp to medium-high to maintain a mild boil for 45-60 minutes or until the marmalade thickens to desired consistency.
  7. Stir occasionally only after first 15 minutes.
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