When I was at a local pea patch last weekend, I spotted a neighboring crop of broccoli that was starting to head and couldn’t resist cutting a few. Just-picked spring broccoli is a far cry from what you get in the supermarket or even from the farm in fall. Tender and sweet, it cooks in no time plunged into a large pot of boiling water. Served simply with a little olive oil and salt or tossed into pasta, spring broccoli is a real treat. Instead of using olive oil, I dressed the broccoli in a little kumquat liquid and garnished it with the preserved kumquats that have become an obsession of mine since the winter.
I usually preserve lemons Moroccan-style when beautiful un-waxed organic fruit comes into the market, and dip into the jar all year long. This year, I also made lime pickle and preserved kumquats. The kumquats, unlike the unadorned lemons, contained sugar and spices in addition to salt, not to mention, a lot less salt. This is a liberal variation on an Indian recipe, posted by Tigress of Can Jam fame. Genius. I made several batches of these kumquats – with the spices that Tigress used (fennel seed, cumin and black pepper) and with other traditional spices (coriander, cumin and cinnamon). I use the kumquat “juice” instead of oil and vinegar on salads and chopped preserved kumquats as accent, much as you would a pungent olive.
Sweet Preserved Kumquats, thanks to Tigress in a Pickle
12 oz organic kumquats
Juice of 2 lemons
1 tbsp salt
½ c natural brown sugar such as demerara or turbinado
Alternative 1: 1 tsp fennel seed, 1 tsp crushed black pepper, ½ tsp cumin seed
Alternative 2: 1 tsp coriander seed, 1 tsp crushed black pepper, ½ tsp cumin seed, 1 3-4-inch cinnamon stick
Clean and thoroughly dry the kumquats, for a couple of hours at least. Slit each kumquat pole to pole but do not detach. Combine all of the ingredients in a jar. Seal and put it in a warm, sunny place (windowsill). Shake the jar daily to re-combine the ingredients. The kumquats will gradually ooze their liquid. After about 3 weeks, the kumquats will be tender to the fork, at which time they should be refrigerated. Use in a few months’ time.