Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Kumquat Marmalade

My parents have two large kumquat trees in their backyard.  Some years they don't produce much fruit but this year they've been particularly prolific.

Whenever I visit them, my Mum offloads bags filled to the brim with kumquats.  So week after week, my fruit bowl at home seems to pile up higher and higher with kumquats.  My Mum calls kumquats 'Calamansi', which is the Filipino word for the fruit. In the Philippines they tend to squeeze them over savoury dishes instead of using a lemon or a lime.  At the Sydney Filipino restaurant, La Mesa, they even serve Calamansi juice as a sharp and refreshing drink.

Sometimes I also squeeze kumquats into a gin and tonic.  But a man can only drink so many G&Ts.

So I had to find a way to use these kumquats.  The most obvious solution was marmalade.  The difference between a marmalade and a jam is that a marmalade includes both the skin/rind along with the juice and pulp of the fruit.  It is more time consuming than a jam because you need to cook the marmalade down to a point where the rind becomes soft enough to eat.  Some recipes also ask you to soak the fruit in order to remove some of the bitterness from the pith.

Muslin cloth for the seeds

The good thing about kumquats is that they are tiny and their rind is very thin.  So it's less time consuming than, say, orange marmalade.

My kumquat marmalade turned out particularly well (I only made a small quantity, but should've made more!) It's very fragrant - kumquat rind is more floral and perfumed in taste than other citrus, and it really comes through.  It's also pretty tart, and ends on a bitter note - but reading other blogs and books about marmalade, it seems that for some people the bitterness is part of the appeal of marmalade.

This week I also made a Rangpur Lime Marmalade with Jasmine Tea.  I wasn't as pleased with this batch, but I'll post about it later this week!

Kumquat Marmalade Recipe

What you need:

  • 2 sterilised half pint jars;
  • 500g of kumquats;
  • 500g of sugar;
  • 500ml of water; and
  • Muslin cloth.
Making the marmalade:
  1. This recipe is very flexible.  As with most jam recipes, you need the same weight in sugar that you have in fruit, and then a comparable volume of water.  
  2. The first step is the most time consuming step.  You need to slice all of the kumquats into thin circles, while saving all of the seeds/pips.  I did this by firstly slicing the stem off and discarding;  then squeezing out the juice into a pot while catching the pips as they popped out of the fruit.  It's pretty fiddly as you could imagine (partly the reason why I made a small batch!)  You should end up with lots of slices of kumquat rind, steeping in the kumquat juice.  Some recipes say you don't need to slice the kumquats up and simply cut them in half, but I prefer my marmalade to be less chunky.
  3. Put all of the seeds that you just extracted from the fruit into a muslin cloth and then tie the cloth up so the seeds are secure.
  4. Add the water and the cloth bag to the kumquat rind and juice and bring the pot to the boil.  Simmer for around half an hour or until the rind is soft.  You should be able to break the rind up between your fingers.
  5. Now, add in the sugar, stir the marmalade until it dissolves and then bring the pot to the boil again.  Simmer without the lid on for another half hour.
  6. To test whether your marmalade is ready, place a saucer into your freezer and let it chill for about five minutes.  You can then place a teaspoon of the marmalade onto the cold saucer and then put it in the freezer again for a minute.  When you remove the saucer the marmalade should have thickened to a point where a jelly-like skin has formed and if you tilt the saucer vertically, the marmalade doesn't run very quickly and pretty much sticks to the saucer.  If it's still watery, it's definitely not done.  Determining whether a marmalade/jam is ready is actually quite challenging, and I'd say that with experience, this will become easier for me.  
  7. When it's done, scoop the marmalade into the jars and allow to cool. 


  1. I get overwhelmed with fruit sometimes and this year it was with limes and lemons so I made a marmalade. it was so rewarding!

  2. Wow this sounds incredible. Now I'm craving marmalade on toast with lots of butter :)