Here in Los Angeles, it may seem like citrus season all year long, but it wasn’t till a few weeks ago that I noticed the kumquats in my neighbor’s yard ripening. These kumquats were tart when I bit into it, but like all kumquats, their skin had a fragrant with citrus sweetness to it. Since the fruit was too tart to eat by itself, I decided to make kumquat jam with it.
(makes 2 pint jars)
650-700 grams of whole kumquats (rinsed and shaken dry)
1 thumb sized piece of ginger
350-400 grams of sugar
a pinch of salt
a small pot large enough to hold the kumquat and some water
a paring knife
a chef’s knife
clean, empty jars with lids
(Instructions after the jump)
The first step is the most complicated and time consuming. I used the paring knife for this since it’s smaller and easier to control when doing more delicate tasks. Cut the kumquat in half lengthwise. You’ll see a long white stripe of membrane or pith. Cut that part out and poke out any seeds. Reserve these pieces in a separate bowl. Do that for each kumquat. It helps to have music playing for this tedious step. In the end, you’ll have one bowl of seeds and membrane stuff and one bowl of halved kumquats. Save the bowl of seeds and other stuff for the next step!
Put the seeds and membranes into a small sauce pan and add enough water to cover. Turn the heat on medium, let it come to a boil, then turn it to low and let it simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally so nothing burns. Add more water if it starts to look dry. The mixture will thicken.
After 15 minutes, pour the mixture into your cheesecloth set over a bowl to collect the liquid that comes out. Set this aside to drain and cool for now.
Slice all the kumquats into thin slices. No need to be exact here since once they cook down, you won’t be able to differentiate one slice from the other very easily. Weigh the kumquats. Don’t forget to tare your scale to the weight of your container! Halve the weight of the kumquats and add that amount of sugar to them. For example, I had roughly 675g of sliced kumquats, so I added about 350g of sugar. I don’t like when things are too sweet, but if you enjoy a very sweet jam, go ahead and make it 3/4 the weight of the kumquats.
Slice five 1/8 inch slices of ginger. Mix the sugar, ginger, and sliced kumquats together and set aside.
When the thick liquid in the cheesecloth or strainer is cool to the touch, make a pouch out of it and strain as much of the liquid and goop out of the mixture as you can. The substance that comes out is pectin and is essential to make your jam have a nice jammy consistency. It helps to twist the pouch and scrape the sides of the cheesecloth down with a spoon.
Mix the pectin liquid with a few tablespoons of water and put both back into the pot. Feel free to discard the now squeezed-dry seeds and pith in the trash or compost. Put the kumquat and sugar mixture into the pot also. Add enough water to barely cover the top of the kumquats, add a pinch of salt, and turn on the heat to medium high. Stir to dissolve the sugar.
When the stuff in the pot comes to a boil, turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. The mixture will thicken toward the later half of the 45 minutes. If it becomes too thick, feel free to add more water.
When it’s the right jammy consistency, turn off the heat, discard the sliced ginger, and carefully ladle them into jars. Put them in the fridge and let it set over-night.