I was reading a book about fruit the night that I made this recipe. They said that while kumquats resemble citrus, they aren’t a true citrus fruit. The general consensus among those who have tried the fruit say that they are too tart to eat them, therefore for centuries people have been preserving them in sugar or honey before serving.
Part of my family is from southeast TX. When my great aunts from that part of the family came through town right before Thanksgiving, they brought us a bag full of kumquats and persimmons (Sharon fruit). My aunt said that they were from her backyard, and I can only imagine the delight of picking fruits like this just a few feet away from your back door.
While most of us like them raw, my dad was afraid that they would spoil before we could enjoy all of them. Luckily, I found the recipe below for cinnamon kumquats from my Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving cookbook. One of the jars didn’t seal, and I popped it in the fridge for us to enjoy. I tasted one of the fruits the day after I made them, and they were sweet with just a touch of tartness left, soft and delicious. Plus, the jars are absolutely beautiful with the orange yellow fruit suspended in the syrup.
I didn’t have a quite full 2 1/2 lbs, but since the syrup was a basic mixture it didn’t matter.
2 1/2 lbs kumquats, stems removed, outside brushed and rinsed clean
2 T. baking soda
2 cinnamon sticks (4 inches long)
6 c. granulated sugar
Directions with my notes in italics—In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine kumquats and baking soda. Add boiling water to cover and set aside for 5 minutes. Transfer to a colander placed over a sink and drain thoroughly. Rinse three times in cold running water. I have no idea what they meant by this. I rinsed thoroughly, let it drain, and repeated another 2 times. Prick each kumquat twice with a toothpick to prevent bursting.
In a large clean stainless steel saucepan, combine kumquats 8 c water and cinnamon sticks. I always use filtered water when cooking or canning. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and heat gently for 7 minutes. (Be careful not to boil, as boiling may cause the fruit to burst). OK, here is where they lost me—didn’t they just tell me to bring it to a boil? I didn’t bring it to a rolling boil, as I normally would when making preserves. Instead I brought it just to a boil and then turned down the heat. Add sugar and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly but gently, until sugar has dissolved and liquid has almost returned to a boil. Discard cinnamon sticks.
Prepare canner, jars, and lids.
Using a slotted spoon, pack kumquats loosely into hot jars to within a generous 1/2 inch of top of jar. Ladle hot syrup into jar to cover kumquats, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot syrup. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.
Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process both 8 oz and pint jars 15 minutes. Turn off heat and remove canner lid. Let sit 5 minutes. Then remove jars, cool and store.
Yield—the batch that I made weighed right at 2 1/4 lbs, then I had to discard a couple because of blemishes. The batch made the jars shown plus another pint jar that was in the refrigerator.