At Christmas we typically have a bowlful of kumquats decorated with Satsuma tangerines or other citrus with leaves, as a reminder of sunnier places. Citrus in the early to mid 19th century (not so long ago, really) used to be so rare and precious that getting a gift of a tangerine or orange was like gold. It was a Christmas tradition.
The Dad likes eating whole kumquats raw and but this year we had a bowlful left over. In early January, I thought I would poach them in syrup, with a little ginger added, and can them. However, no matter how I made them – poached in light simple syrup for a short time until translucent or parboiled, left to sit and then cooked in a heavy syrup slowly and forever – they looked perfect and plump until I touched them. Then, like a mummy who shrivels when the tomb is opened and air rushes in, they puckered and shrunk. Whoa. The odd thing was that some stayed plump, some were semi-soft, and others were like deadly dabs of melted plastic.
Baffled after the first batch, I decided that the problem must be that my supermarket purchase of pre-packaged kumquats was to blame, since the fruits were of different sizes and degrees of ripeness. So when our health food store had organic kumquats that were beautiful, unblemished and uniform, I tried this experiment again, with similar results. Hmmm.
However, the good news was that I ended up with a couple of jars of canned kumquats and kumquat syrup. So I made kumquat sorbet using my non-dairy coconut milk method (see post of November 14, 2009). I substituted kumquat syrup for the water and sugar and added pureed kumquats from the canned jar, picking only the ones that were plump and de-seeding them. The finished sorbet was delicious. After the flavors got acquainted, the sorbet tasted like a Creamsicle with a kick. Really, really good.