A simple little preserve, for that last pound or so of organic California kumquats: candied kumquats with a pequin chile kick!
I had big plans for my little kumquats: some of them went into Tigress’ pickle-tastic salt and pepper ‘quats, some others became Cakewalk’s wonderful habañero marmalade, a handful here & there were eaten fresh, and a handful more remain for recipe inspiration (I’ve been finding all sorts of great kumquat ideas on Ye Olde Interwebs; if I have time I’ll throw up a post of kumquat linklove). But I had a bit over a pound left, and I needed to do something quick & easy with them before they got too soft or shriveled. Then Autumn posted her candied mandarinquats with bourbon and ancho chile and I knew she was onto something. Candied sweet-sour bombs, perfect for a Sunday afternoon cocktail, with just a hint of spicy zing? Yes, please.
Candying citrus couldn’t be much easier: basically you simmer the fruit in a simple syrup of sugar and water and you’re done. I choose a method that worked for me: a long, low-heat simmer, followed by an overnight
procrastination period rest before heating & canning. But there are plenty of recipes out there, plenty of methods that all work equally well. The point is, if you don’t candy some kumquats now, you can’t enjoy kumquatinis in July. And won’t that be a shame?
- 1 and ¼ lbs kumquats, preferably organic
- 1 cup filtered water
- 1 cup sugar (organic refined/white beet sugar)
- 9 dried pequin chiles, stems removed
- Wash kumquats, remove the tiny stem end, and slice in half lengthwise. Add kumquats, water, sugar and chiles to a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Cover and simmer over low heat for approximately 1 hour. Remove from heat and allow to rest at room temperature, covered, overnight. Alternatively, continue with step 2 immediately: not sure how much difference the overnight rest makes to the overall texture.
- Prepare canner, jars and lids.
- Bring kumquats in syrup back to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. With a slotted spoon, fill hot jars with kumquats to about ½-inch headspace, packing fruit down gently so the kumquats do not lose their shape. Once all kumquats have been transferred to jars, bring the syrup to a lively boil, allowing it to boil for 1 to 2 minutes to reduce slightly. Add syrup to the kumquats to cover, up to a generous ¼-inch headspace. Make sure to bubble the jars, to ensure that no air pockets remain without syrup. Wipe rims, affix lids and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Yields about 3 cups.
- There are options galore: preserve in honey or brown sugar; add different spices, or omit altogether; get wacky with some dried herbs; go Asian with a stalk or two of fresh lemongrass and a hint of sake, or Middle Eastern with salt & aleppo pepper. Basically, the world is your kumquat.
Canned, store in a cool, dark spot for up to 1 year. Refrigerated, should last for months.