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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Kumquat Cornucopia

Before I head down to Coachella this weekend and pretty much give myself a Spring Break Part 2, I need to update this. After all, who knows how alive I will even be upon my return on Monday? Three days, scores of music artists, and raver friends; it doesn’t get much better than that.

Neither does this recipe for candied kumquats. While on spring break, there happened to be a kumquat tree in the vicinity. Rather than stealing them myself and seeming super lurky, I assigned someone else to do it for me. Thus, I found myself with a bag full of the small, citrusy fruits and needed to figure out what to do with them.

For those of you unfamiliar with kumquats, I assure you that if you like oranges, you will like them. In appearance, they are tiny, about an inch long and oval-shaped. Their orange exteriors can be bitter, so it is always a good idea to blanch them in some boiling water for a 30 seconds or so to remove some of that off-taste. When ripe, they are juicy and full of flavour [I had actually snuck a few off of the tree and popped them directly into my mouth. You know, just to test them out]. Just be careful of the seeds if you eat them raw; be sure to remove them before you use them for any sort of pastry.

Putting him hard to work

I have always enjoyed candied fruit, especially citrus ones, so I figured that candying these would be a good way to start using them up. But when reading recipes online, I found that everyone seems to candy differently. Some blanch their fruit three times, while others don’t even bother; and the sugar to water ratios varied widely.

I combined ideas from the slew of recipes I read and came up with the one below. For an added kick, I threw in some cardamom pods [those who know me know that cardamom seems to find its way into nearly every dessert I make].

The best thing about candying anything is that the final product lasts for a long time when jarred correctly. Mason jars work best to keep things airtight. After that, you can use them at your discretion, from pancake toppings to cake fillings. I’ll be posting a recipe shortly about what I ended up doing with my batch, so keep reading!

Cardamom-Candied Kumquats

2 cups sliced kumquats, seeds removed and discarded
5 cardamom pods, crushed
1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup water

Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat. Drop in the kumquat slices and blanch for about thirty seconds. Scoop out and set aside.
In a large pot, combine 2/3 cup water, sugar, and cardamom pods. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer for 5 minutes or so.
Add blanched kumquats and let simmer over medium-low heat for 25-30 minutes until syrup is thick and kumquats are translucent and soft, stirring occasionally. Make sure that the kumquats are not too soft to the point that they start falling apart; you want them to retain their shape, as it adds body to the final product.
Remove from heat and let cool completely at room temperature. Pour into an airtight container and store in refrigerator. Warm them up over the stove when using for garnishes.

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