My BFF, Paula, called me from a Santa Cruz farmers market and asked me, "Do you need kumquats? These are the biggest I've ever seen!" Now, need may not be the exact word to describe my relationship with kumquats, but the question resulted in 3 lbs. of these beauties, gifted to me.
We have a lot of citrus in Sacramento. All kinds of citrus trees line our downtown streets as understory trees beneath the great Plane and Sycamore trees. As I take my lunch time walks, I often spy out oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes, mandarins and kumquats. (I have the eyes of a forager!) In all my yard-food spying, I have never seen kumquats like these. They are much larger than what I usually see and have previously preserved. They are also softer, more pulpy and very fragrant. Based on a google search, I think these are Fukushu Kumquats - a hybrid of kumquats and mandarins. I don't know for sure, but the descriptions and photos make this my best guess.
These seemed too big to preserve in halves, as I did in Kumquats Preserved in Honey and Rosewater. They also seemed too small to separate the zest and segments, as I do for most of my marmalades. What I ended up doing is cutting them into quarters, lengthwise, cutting away the tough center membrane and popping the seeds out with the knife tip.
I then sliced the rind and pulp that remained into thin strips.
As is often the case, I made this marmalade over several days. Not because the recipe requires it, but because I was busy and received them during the week. One night, I quartered and seeded the fruit. Another night, I cut the thin slices and simmered them with water. I then added the sugar and popped the sweetened fruit back int he fridge until I was ready to can. Everything goes in the fridge between each of the steps, of course.
Even though the processing had some delays, the flavor is bright and fresh. I think that having the peels sit around for a while also made them more tender. They still give a nice bit of bite, but do not disrupt the overall texture of the marmalade as you chew.
If you happen to come by these unusual fruits, this marmalade is well worth your effort to try!
Fukushu Kumquat Marmalade
3 lbs. Fukushu or other larger kumquats
4 1/2 cups sugar
Thoroughly wash and dry the kumquats. Slice lengthwise into quarters and cut out the tough center where the membranes meet. Pop out the seeds. Slice the remaining quarters into thin strips. The prepared fruit should measure to about 5 cups. Add 5 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently for about 20 minutes. Remeasure the cooked mixture. It should equal about 7 cups. Add 4 1/2 cups sugar.
When ready to can, prepare water bath canner, 8 half-pint jars, lids and rings. Place some saucers and tea spoons in the freezer.
In a very large sauce pan, bring the combined fruit and sugar to a boil. Once boiling, keep a close eye on it and stir down occasionally. It foamed up quite a bit for me. The foam will subside near the end of the cooking time. When the marmalade begins to thicken and the bubbles are glossy and not foamy, begin to test for set. You can also use a thermometer and start checking when the temperature reaches 220 degrees. To test for set, scoop a bit of the marmalade out with one of the spoons from the freezer. Place it back in the freezer on one of the saucers and let it cool for a couple of minutes. Remove from the freezer and tip the spoon onto the saucer. Does it drop thickly? Does it wrinkle when you push the blob on the saucer? If it does, it is good to go!
Carefully fill the hot, prepared jars and wipe the rims. Top with lids and rings and process in the boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Remove carefully and place them on a tray lined with a tea towel.
Makes 7 to 8 half pint jars.