from one generation to the next
I have a small cumquat tree in a pot. I’m not much of a green thumb so it’s testament to the hardiness of the cumquat that it has survived twenty plus years, including three house moves, two droughts, attack by mealy bugs and aphids, caterpillars and spiders. It has never been repotted and it’s lucky to be fed twice a year. Occasionally in spring I cut it back hard and try and shape it into an elegant topiary, but mostly it just gets watered.
The scent of my cumquat tree when in bloom is sublime. It doesn’t always produce a crop of fruit worth making marmalade with, but most years it does.
For those of you who have never tasted cumquat marmalade, the flavour is akin to bitter oranges, but fuller, deeper and more intense. Cumquats make THE best marmalade. I always have an oversupply in my pantry but I can’t bear to let the fruit rot.
1 kg cumquats
1.75 kg white sugar
Juice of a large lemon
1/4 cup Cointreau, Grand Marnier or Vodka
Wash the cumquats. Halve each fruit, scoop out the seeds and set them aside. Slice the fruit very thinly into a non corrosive bowl. Tie the seeds into a piece of muslin and tuck them under the fruit. Cover the fruit with cold water and set aside for a minimum of 8 hours.
Bring the cumquats, seeds and water to the boil, add the lemon juice, then reduce the heat and cook uncovered at a high simmer until the liquid has reduced by half.
Add the sugar and stir until well dissolved.
Continue to cook the marmalade until thick and it gels when tested.
You can test if the marmalade is ready by dropping a small amount on a plate, quickly cooling it in the fridge, then dragging your finger through the dob of syrup. If the edges of the marmalade do not ooze, cooking is complete.
Remove the pot from the heat and carefully stir in the liqueur. It may spit so take care.
Spoon the marmalade into sterilised jars and seal. Will keep for 2 years plus.
To sterilize jars, put just washed wet jars and metal lids in the oven at 120C for 30 minutes. Boil plastic lids for 5 minutes.