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Every so often, a package of fresh fruit will arrive on my parents’ doorstep – an unexpected gift from their friend Garo who lives in California. He’s sent them fresh figs from his backyard tree several times, and a month or so ago they received a box full of gorgeous orange kumquats. They love getting the fruit but, not being jam makers, they sometimes find themselves with more than they can use.
Fortunately, I often end up with their extras! When my mom came to visit a few weeks back, she stashed a good-sized bag of the kumquats in my refrigerator, and mentioned off-handedly that maybe I could make marmalade. Later, my husband pulled out the bag and sliced up a couple of the fruits for all of us to sample. What a welcome treat they were!
In the midst of a very snowy Maine winter (yes, we still had a lot of snow and freezing temperatures throughout March!) the small golden-orange oval-shaped fruits were truly lovely to behold. What’s more, never having tried kumquats before, I was very surprised to discover that the peel is slightly sweet, and not at all bitter, while the flesh is a little sour – quite unlike other types of citrus. As soon as I tasted one, I realized that marmalade was exactly what I wanted to make with them.
I’m a big fan of marmalade, but there’s no question it can be a little bitter – especially if the recipe includes a lot of peel. Kumquat marmalade typically uses the whole fruit, including all the peel, and yet I find it to be much less bitter than other marmalades, due to the sweetness of the peel. What’s more, kumquat peels are quite thin, so they get very soft and break down a lot during the cooking process, making the texture a bit more like jam than most marmalades are.
So, if you are not normally a fan of marmalade but are craving a bit of citrus, this is the marmalade to try! I used Nagami kumquats for this recipe, one of the more popular and widely available varieties, but other types will work as well. If your local grocery store does not carry them, specialty food stores and Asian markets often have a good selection during the winter and spring months.
Yield: 4 to 5 cups
Before You Begin:
Prepare calcium water. To do this, combine ½ teaspoon calcium powder (in the small packet in your box of Pomona’s pectin) with ½ cup water in a small, clear jar with a lid. Shake well. Extra calcium water should be stored in the refrigerator for future use.
Kumquat Marmalade Ingredients
2 pounds kumquats
2 cups water
¼ cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons calcium water
1½ cups sugar
3 teaspoons Pomona’s Pectin powder
Kumquat Marmalade Directions
1. Wash and rinse jars, lids, and screw bands. Set screw bands aside until ready to use. Place jars in boiling water bath canner with a rack, fill at least 2/3 of the way full with water, and bring to a boil. Boil jars for 10 minutes to sterilize (add 1 additional minute of sterilizing time for every 1000 feet above sea level), then turn down heat and let jars stand in hot water until ready to use. Place lids in water in a small pan, bring to a low simmer, and hold there until ready to use.
2. Thoroughly rinse the kumquats. Then, slice each kumquat width-wise into several thin, quarter-sized rounds (a small, serrated knife works well for this). Remove and discard the seeds as you are working.
3. Combine the sliced kumquats and the 2 cups of water in a saucepan, cover with a lid, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, then remove from the heat.
4. Measure 4 cups of the cooked kumquat mixture. If you have extra, save it for another use. Pour the measured amount of the kumquat mixture into a sauce pan. Add lemon juice and calcium water and stir to combine.
5. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar and the pectin powder. Mix well and set aside.
6. Bring the kumquat mixture to a rolling boil over high heat. Add the sugar-pectin mixture, then stir vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes, still over the highest heat, to dissolve pectin. Return the mixture to a boil, then remove it from the heat.
7. Remove hot jars from canner and fill jars with marmalade, leaving ¼ inch of headspace. Remove trapped air bubbles, wipe rims with a damp cloth, and put on lids and screw bands, tightening bands only to “fingertip tight” (until resistance is met, and then just the tiniest bit more).
8. Place jars in the hot water, on the rack inside the canner. (Make sure jars are upright, not touching each other or the sides of the canner, and are covered with at least 1-2 inches of water). Place the lid on the canner, return the canner to a rolling boil, and boil for 10 minutes. (Add 1 minute additional processing time for every 1000 feet above sea level.)
9. Turn off heat and allow canner and jars to sit for 5 minutes. Then remove jars from canner.
10. Allow jars to cool undisturbed for 12 to 24 hours. Then confirm that jars have sealed. Remove screw bands from sealed jars, rinse off outside of jars if necessary, label jars, and store for later use.
Recipe and photos by Allison Carroll Duffy