Kumquat Habanero Marmalade

kumquat-habanero-marmIt appears that it is Kumquat Preserve Week on ye olde interwebs: not only my own modest contribution, but a straight-up kumquat marmalade from David Lebovitz, slow-cooked and with less sugar, and this rhubarb(!) and kumquat jam from Yossy via Blue Chair Fruit (who are teaching marmalade classes this month as well, if you live in the Bay Area and want to learn). Well, I have one more to add to the pile of kumquat love: kumquat habanero marmalade, originally made & blogged by Rebecca at CakeWalk, who adapted from a Linda Zeidrich recipe. You see how this preserves-making thing goes, right? We all bat recipes back and forth, tweaking them here and there to our tastes: a little less sugar, a little more chile, a looser set, a chewier citrus peel. While there are only so many ways to combine fruit & sugar, there are a million variations in the details; and the details, as they say, make the jam.

I’ve made this one twice: once with one habanero chile, minced and included in the mix, and a second time with three tiny red habaneros, and a bit more sugar to offset the seriously spicy kick. I used white sugar this time around, because it’s such a pretty preserve and I wanted to keep the colors bright. The flavor is wonderful: sweet (with more sugar than I would normally use, but somehow it works here), tangy, spicy. The texture is really more a jelly with occasional candied-peel surprise (a marmalelly, if you will) than my traditional packed-full-of-peel marms.

On a technical note, kumquats foam up a lot: make sure you use a really big preserving pan (I cooked this batch in a 6 ¾ quart wide Le Creuset and it just barely fit). Seeding the kumquats can be a pain: it is a bit fiddly and annoying. On the last kumquat post, reader Kathy commented that she likes to slice the kumquat around the middle, squeeze out the seeds, then continue to slice. I prefer to slice thinly about halfway through the kumquat, then pick the seeds out with the tip of my serrated tomato knife. Either way, you only have a pound to do at a time, so it’s not too onerous. I used frozen habaneros, and I wore gloves to mince them: habanero juice in your eyeballs is really, really bad. Don’t ask me how I know. In fact, if making the spicier version, you may want to turn the stove exhaust fan on during the initial 15-minute boil. <cough, cough> Spicy or mild, this one is a gem, and definitely worthy of your precious kumquat stash.

Stay tuned for even more Kumquat Love as #marmapalooza2014 rolls on…

Adapted from Kumquat-Habanero Marmalade by Rebecca at CakeWalk, who adapted from Linda Ziedrich

kumquat-habanero-marmKumquat Habanero Marmalade


  • 1 lb kumquats
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 medium habanero pepper, stemmed, seeded and minced
  • 3 ½ cups sugar (regular white cane sugar)


  1. Day 1. Slice kumquats cross-wise into rings, popping out and reserving seeds as you go. Place seeds in a tea ball or cheesecloth bundle. Add kumquats, water, seeds, and minced habanero to a medium stockpot. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to medium and boil, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Transfer to a heat-safe bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Day 2. Prepare canner, jars and lids.
  3. Remove and discard seeds. Return fruit mixture to the preserving pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add sugar, stirring until dissolved. Return to a boil and continue to boil over high heat, stirring only as necessary to prevent sticking, until marmalade reaches the set point, about 15 – 20 minutes. I used the frozen plate test and stopped cooking at 218 degrees F.
  4. Ladle hot marmalade into hot jars to ¼-inch head space. Wipe rims, affix lids and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Once jars are out of the water bath and have cooled for approximately 30 minutes (still very warm to the touch) turn upside down and shake gently to distribute kumquat peel evenly through the jelly. Return jars to upright position and allow to cool undisturbed overnight.

Yields about 5 cups.


  1. Batch #1 was made as above; for Batch #2, I used three tiny (about equivalent to two medium) red habaneros, and increased the sugar to 4 cups. This resulted in a quite spicy marmalade, more of a hot pepper jelly with a kumquat under note.
  2. Disturbing the processed jars after they come out of the canner can sometimes inhibit or interfere with set: in this case, I wanted kumquat peel to be evenly distributed throughout the preserve, and in neither batch did the shaking seem to have an impact on the final set.
  3. Red habaneros can be harder to find than their orange cousins, so of course you can use orange: I just liked the color contrast of the red. The original recipe stipulates a halved habanero that is removed prior to cooking; for a milder preserve, go that route.


Canned, store in a cool dark spot for up to 1 year.




  1. Denny

    I really like the Kumquat Habañero Marmalade we dont have much in the way of Kumquats could the idea of using Habañero’s in a bitter Orange Marmalade work?

    • Sure – I use chiles, both dried & fresh, in a number of marmalades. In the case of bitter orange, you might want to dial back on the amount of peel in a typical recipe (i.e. add more water + sugar than you typically might) so that the chile has a chance to shine.

  2. Is that one of Robert’s cutting boards in that top picture? Love it 🙂 Also loving all this marmalade. I actually just made some of Rebecca’s mixed citrus marmalade yesterday. Have to get my hands on some kumquats!!!

    • Nope; it’s an aged extra-sharp colby from Crowley Cheese in Vermont called “unusually sharp.” More like a cheddar than a colby in taste & texture, I think. Fabulous with a tangy-spicy jam.

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