Aaah, Cumquats. Those little orange balls of sour citrusness. Cute, but inedible. That is, except if you make Brandied Cumquats, Cumquats in Gin, Cumquats Pickle, Cumquat Olive Oil or Cumquat Marmalade, or use Cumquats in salads.
Sometimes these little orange balls are spelled Kumquats.
Vanilla beans have a sweet perfumed aroma that is almost woody or smoky. It pairs wonderfully with the cumquats, indeed any citrus. Vanilla essence is made from vanilla beans, but once you have used the beans you will never return to the essence.
Vanilla beans are the fruit of the Vanilla orchid, a tropical plant that produces long green-yellow seed pods. The pods are picked while unripe and are cured until they are dark brown.
To use a Vanilla pod, split it in two lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Use the seeds in your recipe, but do not discard the pod. It can be used to add more flavour, or indeed seeped in alcohol to make a very flavoursome (and alcoholic) drink.
The seeds of the vanilla pod are very very small and black. You will see them in your dish, adding a real visual appeal.
But I digress… Back to cumquats and jam…
Divine Cumquat Marmalade with Vanilla Bean
Prep Time: 35 mins
Cook Time: about 70 mins
Makes: about 4 jars
2 vanilla beans, split in half
1 tablespoon fruit liqueur
Wash the cumquats and halve or quarter them, depending on size.
Remove seeds and put into a cup of water. The seeds have a wonderful setting quality about them, and this helps to capture that.
Put cumquats in a bowl and just cover with boiling water. Cover with plastic wrap and leave overnight. This softens the peel of the cumquats which is too tough otherwise.
Next day,measure the cumquat and water mixture into a large pot or saucepan. For every cup (250ml) of mixture, allow 0.75 cup (185g) caster sugar.
Strain the seeds, adding the liquid to the cumquat mix. Tie the seeds into a muslin bag and add to the cumquats, tying the bag to the sides or handle of the pan. Again, this is to extract that flavour and setting quality from the seeds.
Add the vanilla beans to the mixture, bring to the boil and turn the heat down and simmer for 20 minutes.
Add the sugar to the mixture and stir well with a wooden spoon. Return to the boil and boil for another 20 – 40 minutes approximately until it reaches setting point. Stir frequently. (To test for setting point, my method is to put a drop of jam on the side of a white saucer. Leave for a minute, and tip the saucer. If the drop has trouble running down the saucer, the setting point is near. )
Turn off the heat, stir through the liqueur. Squeeze out the seed bag (carefully – it will be hot) and remove.
Spoon the jam into warm, sterile jars. Allow to cool. I cover with gladwrap (clingwrap) while the jam is warm, and an elastic band, and store the jam in the fridge.
Eat lavishly on toast. Stir into porridge.
browse some of the Jam recipes