Yum yum. What do you do with almost 5 gallons of sweet Meiwa kumquats? Had to pick them before the big freeze…and now, I have lots and lots. After getting lots of people to try them for the first time, and a few people were reacquainted with a winter favorite, I still have lots and lots left.
I just have to say, if you have never made marmalade or jelly, it will take a few hours from start to finish. This should not be daunting or intimidating; the process is very simple, it is just time consuming and you should be prepared and have enough time set aside. Especially especially if you decide to make a double batch, as yours truly did. It takes about the same amount cooking time to make a double batch as it does to make two single batches. But, it got done, and it tastes delicious. See, the reward for making something so simple is great. I did this over several days. I cut two pounds of kumquats and cooked them in the 6 cups of water for 45 minutes. The next day, I did the same thing with two more pounds of kumquats. The third day, I combined the two batches and cooked them. It took about almost 2 hours for the marmalade to reach the setting point, cooked on a consistent medium to medium-high heat.
Also, on the use of pectin: you don’t need it. The little orange fruits have plenty of pectins within the peel and the seeds. I collected all the seeds as I cut the kumquats, and tied them up in a piece of muslin (’cause it’s what I had; thanks Mom!). Cooking the peel in the water for 45 minutes helps to break down the fruit before the jelly-making process actually starts. The overnight sit helps to pull more pectin out of the fruit (and seeds) for a good set.
On the addition of the lemon, I’m not sure, but every orange marmalade recipe called for it, so of course we added it.
On the kumquats themselves, the kumquats I have available to me are the very sweet Meiwa kumquats. Eating the peel of these are like eating candied orange peel. The inside can sometimes be a little tart when they are a little underripe, but nothing like the sourness or the more oval-shaped commonly available (in the stores) Nagami kumquats.
- 2 pounds kumquats (yes, I weighed them on a kitchen scale)
- 1 large Meyer lemon, or 2 regular lemons, cut in 8th’s and sliced thin (mini wedges)
- 6 cups of water
- 3 1/2 pounds sugar (about 7 1/2 cups)
- To cut the kumquats, cut them in the middle at the equator. Squeeze the seeds out (there are up to 5 in each kumquat) into a bowl for later use. Slice the kumquats into 1/4 inch slices, insides and all. The long cooking process will break down the inside membranes.
- Cut the Meyer lemon in eighth’s and then slice each wedge thinly. You’ll end up with little wedges.
- In a heavy large pot, combine the kumquat slices, the lemon wedges, the reserved seeds (tied up in cheesecloth), and 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil and simmer on medium for 40 to 50 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool 2 hours or overnight. Place in fridge, once cool, if letting it sit overnight.
- NOTE: To prepare my jars for any jelly, I like to wash them in hot soapy water, rinse well, and place them in a baking dish. Set the baking dish full of jars in the oven set at 350 for about 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to low (170 to 200) until the marmalade is ready. The lids and rings I keep simmering in a pot of water on the stove. This must be done BEFORE you start cooking the jelly or marmalade.
- To make the marmalade, first get the jars ready (see above).
- The next day (or 2 hours later, or immediately), return the jelly to a boil Add the sugar. Dissolve the sugar completely. Bring to a boil on medium heat and boil another 30 to 40 minutes. This can take well over an hour. If you know how to test for jelly/jam using a saucer, more power to you! I’ve given up on the thermometer, because using it causes serious burns to my hands! As the jelly/marmalade gets close to the setting stage, it tends to spew hot sugar syrup, inevitably burning my hands. Not fun. However, when it reaches this point, you are getting quite close. The bubbles are smaller, the liquid is thicker and it will get darker (that’s because the sugars are starting to caramelize). Make sure to stir to prevent burning. Resist the temptation to turn up the burner to “speed up the process”. Medium to medium-high will get you there; it just takes time.
- You can use the thermometer, if you choose. 220 degrees Fahrenheit is what we are looking for. It can be hard to get there, and may take longer than you think. Mine usually sits at 210 for-ever, then sits for-ever at 215. So, then I bump it up a notch, and boom, it starts to burn on the bottom. Plus, those burns on your hand. We’ll say that it’s reached 220 when that happens. I actually prefer the caramel taste in my marmalades, but it usually happens by accident.
- Ladle the jelly into warm, sterilized jars and top with lids that have been soaking in hot water. Place the rings on, and tighten hand-tight. Some of the jars will seal- you’ll hear the lids go “pop”. Just to be on the safe side, I like to go ahead and process them in a waterbath for 10 minutes. You can extend the shelf life a lot longer. Which is a good thing, because you never know when your recipients will eat it.
And now, I’m off to take a jar to my wonderful neighbor who brought me to pick all of these wonderful fruits!!
Thank you to my husband for coming to my rescue and helping me to finish this yesterday!!