Despite living in Colorado, I have a bestie in California with a kumquat tree in her yard, so I was happily surprised and excited to open a box full of beautiful kumquats in the mail!
The husband and I love watching cooking shows on Netflix and have now watched the entire season of Flavorful Origins at least three times (highly recommend this show,
One episode covered various preparations of citrus. I was inspired to use the methods outlined in creating the “Chaozhou Mandarin Orange Cake” and apply those to these little kumquats. A unique aspect of the kumquat is that the rind is sweet and the meat and juice is sour – the opposite of almost all other types of citrus. As these steamed then candied little cakes are very rind-centric, I thought trying this at home would be the perfect method. These addictive little candies add a pop of color and flavor as a garnish and are even delicious alone.
50 – 60 ripe kumquats
1 cup sugar (and some for sprinkling)
Cut 4 small slits in the side of each kumquat and smash with the broad side of your knife. This will allow you to easily remove most of the seeds and a lot of the juice.
Place processed fruit into a steamer basket over a pot of hot water and steam for 15-20 minutes, flipping occasionally. You’ll see they start to get shiny and slippery. According to the cooking show, this makes the pores of the skin tighten and close. Remove the fruit and any additional meat sticking out of the slits is easy to slip out of the rind (remember, the rind is the best part so don’t feel bad about tossing the meat you can get out in the composter).
After allowing the kumquats to dry for just a few minutes, place them in a pan on medium heat. In the show, the ratio of sugar to fruit was 1 to 5, so I started with 3/4 cup sugar sprinkled over the top and added another 1/4 cup. Honestly, I just eyeballed what I thought a fifth of the fruit looked like to pick my sugar amount. It’s better to start with less and add, so be conservative and feel free to add if it looks like it needs more.
The sugar will quickly turn to syrup. Make sure to allow it to bubble but not brown. Turn each fruit several times to ensure it’s fully coated with and absorbs the syrup. Lay out the fruit to cool on a baking mat or parchment paper.
Optional: I sprinkled mine with sugar after they’d cooled overnight. It created a crunchy and perfect finish.
Enjoy! Use as a topper on ice cream, muffins, on the edge of a cocktail, or eat alone.