A friend of mine was on a vacation in Corfu, Greece and brought me some candied kumquats as a souvenir. Small whole fruits, soaked in syrup. I took a bite with a cup of coffee and I was intrigued by their taste - slightly sweet, slightly bitter and slightly sour. According to the Internet, kumquats are native to China, but they are widely cultivated in Japan and also grown in Florida and California the United States and on Corfu island in Europe.
Kumquats resemble oranges, but they are smaller and oblong, about 3-4 cm in length. Their skin is thin and sweet and their center is rather tart, so unlike oranges you eat either the whole raw kumquat or only its peel. If you want to enjoy completely their taste, you should release the essential oils included in their skin, so you should "massage" them by rolling between your fingers before eating. But the best way to taste this bittersweet fruit is to try it candied or made into jelly or marmelade. Candied kumquats could be served with cheese, chocolate or ice cream, but they are also a marvellous spread on a hot buttered toast or a perfect topping for duck, ham or veal fillet. Of course, you can enjoy their citrusy freshness straight from the jar. Vanilla bean with its sweet and wooden aroma is a perfect match of the kumquat, so it is a key ingredient of the jam. Kumquats have seeds, which should not be eaten (like those of the oranges), so most of the recipes call for slicing the fruits and discarding the seeds. But I like the bite-size of the kumquats, So I let them whole.
- 250 g kumquats
- 1 cup of water
- 2 cups of sugar
- 1 vanilla pod
- 1 Tbsp Cointreau
Wash the kumquats and gently pat dry with a soft cloth. Prick the kumquats with a fork. Heat the water and sugar and let them boil. Add the kumquats and simmer for 20 minutes or until the fruits are translucent. Add the split and seeded vanilla bean and the Cointreau. Drain the kumquats and put them in a jar. Return the syrup to the pan and reduce it until it gets syrupy. Add the syrup to the kumquats and enjoy.