Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Kumquats in Syrup
Like baby corn, Vienna sausages, and mini donuts, a kumquat's appeal is due, in part, to its infantile charm. But while the fruit might look like a prepubescent orange, it offers a mindbendingly different taste sensation. A fresh kumquat is entirely edible (although some have large seeds), with a sweet rind and contrastingly sour flesh.
You could call kumquats the weird cousins of the citrus family, but the jury's still out; some botanists think kumquats belong to their very own genus, Fortunella. The fruit originated in China and the name translates as "golden orange". The association of kumquats with gold and good fortune is widespread throughout Asia, making the fruit a popular motif during Lunar New Year.
Like good fortune, kumquats can slip away all too easily. In most regions the harvest season is relatively short, and the fresh fruits don't last long. In Asia it's common practice to preserve the wealth of a good kumquat harvest by salt-curing or candying the fruit.
Of the two most common varieties found in the US, the oval-shaped Nagami kumquats I found at Trader Joes are tarter than the rounder, sweeter Marumis, and therefore perfect candidates for candying. I followed the recipe on the Put Up or Shut Up blog, omitting the ginger. I also elected not to remove the seeds, even though they're big; I figured I'd rather spend seconds spitting them out than hours deseeding dozens of tiny fruit (I just have to remember to pass that along to anyone I share the kumquats with...).
Both the fruit and syrup are absolutely delicious--bright and lively and almost overwhelmingly flavorful. I can see kumquats earning a permanent spot in my pantry of grey-day antidotes.