My Messinia

Ionian kumquat marmalade

DSC_0188ps2otvKumquat trees are so pleasing to look at and especially now, in springtime, when bearing their orange-gold beautiful fruits…which in shape and size can be compared to Kalamata olives verity and in color and structure can be compared to oranges… DSC_0203otvBeing one of those unusual fruits that many are unsure how to eat, people tend to shy away from them. The entire fruit is edible, rind and all. The sweet part is the peel, whereas the pulp is extremely tart, or at least sour enough that the peel seems sweet in contrast. Some kumquats may have a bitter taste and usually have large seeds. If you roll the fruit between your fingers, this will release the essential oils in the kumquat and make it tastier.DSC_0215otvKumquats, which are native of China*, were brought to Greece by the British Botanist Sidney Merlin in 1860 and adopted very well on the Ionian side and in particular on Corfu island. It seems the plant liked the Corfiot climate and the people of Corfu liked its taste and aroma. Kum-quat liqueur has become a trademark of Corfu, and it can be found in both the characteristic bright orange and in the, more natural, yellowish colour. Kumquats are also used in cooking and processed into sweets, jam, marmelade and even perfume! The Meiwa variety is considered the best to eat out of hand, since its pulp is much sweeter than other varieties. DSC_0296otvMessinia shares this same climate with the Ionian islands, we are quite close to them, and although kumquat is ignored locally, due to the “lack of kumquat tradition”, I was sure that it will do well in our garden too. Our only little kumquat tree was planted last October and by now it has given us 37 perfect kumquats…just enough to make 1 jar of marmalade…

DSC_0047otvLoaded with vitamin C, kumquats are a good source of potassium and calcium and are low in calories, about 60 calories per half cup of sliced kumquats. Eating the skins, you will also benefit from the limonoids they produce. The tangy taste of kumquats mixed with sweet sugar form a marmalade so crazy good, you’ll be licking it off your fingers.

  • 30 kumquats, rinsed and thinly sliced
  • White sugar-2 cups
  • Lemon juice of 2 lemons
  • Coriander seeds-2 grated
  • Ginger root-1tbs grated
  • Water
  1. Slice the kumquats and seed them
  2. For each cup of sliced kumquats, add 3 cups of water, and let stand covered in a cool place for at least 12 hours or overnight
  3. Bring kumquat mixture to a boil.
  4. Add coriander and ginger, reduce heat and allow to simmer for about 45 minutes until rind is very tender
  5. Remove from heat and add sugar. Mix in the lemon juice. Let it shimmer for 10 more minutes stirring continuously.

Return fruit to the pan and bring to boil again. Boil, stirring occasionally until a gel stage is reached (about 220 deg. Fahrenheit, or 105 deg. Celsius when checked with a kitchen thermometer). Remove from heat and skim foam from the surface. Transfer the mixture to sterile jars and seal immediately. Refrigerate marmalade once seal has been broken.DSC_0586otvHow to Select: Kumquats are highly perishable, so look for bright orange skins with no the soft spots or blemishes.

How to Store: You can leave kumquats on the counter; however, they will spoil much quicker, in about a week. It’s best to store in the refrigerator, where they should last for about three weeks.

 * In Cantonese, the kumquat is known as kin ku,’ meaning golden orange.’ It’s thought to bring good fortune and wealth to have a fruit-bearing tree in your house during Chinese New Year.

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