Ever since the Tigress Can Jam, I’ve been in love with these sweet preserved kumquats. When Marisa McClellan of Food in Jars announced a yearlong preserving mastery challenge, she touted how many of us became acquainted through Tigress. For this challenge, I couldn’t help a shout out to our shared experience. At the time we did this in 2010, I’d been preserving for years but was a new blogger. My pantry thanks me for keeping up with both. And thanks to Marisa for stepping up.
I admit that I’m one of those annoying people who always have a refrigerator full of preserved lemons and multiple fermented vegetables – mostly kraut but also garlic scapes and root vegetables. It’s a pickle factory in there. But once a year I make a batch or two of these special salt-preserved citrus-like fruits. Raw, kumquats are nearly as “puckery” as lemons. Sweetened and seasoned with fennel seed or cumin seed or various spices, they transform into an amazing addition to various dishes. I think they’re as versatile as olives.As I’ve said before, I serve them as a garnish for vegetables such as broccoli and roasted cauliflower, or a salad of bitter greens. My favorite is to use the liquid as a dressing for salad, since the skin of the kumquats yields its oils and you basically need nothing else. Here I combined them with pickled carrots flavored with star anise. I also add preserved kumquats and green olives to chicken dishes. Or beef. Or fish.
Sweet Preserved Kumquats adapted from Tigress in a Pickle
6-8 oz kumquats, preferably organic (enough to fill a pint jar)
½-2/3 c freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼-1/3 c turbinado sugar
2 tbsp salt
1½ tsp ground black pepper
Seasonings: either 1½ tsp fennel seeds plus1 tsp whole cumin seed, OR1 tsp coriander plus 1 tsp whole cumin seed plus a 1” piece of cinnamon stick OR 5 whole cloves OR …
Wash the kumquats well, dry them thoroughly and let them sit to finish drying for at least several hours, if not overnight.
Remove any vestige of the stem, and slice the kumquats vertically but not all of the way through. Remove the largest seeds. Place them in a pint jar.
Gently heat the lemon juice and the sugar over low heat, stirring, just until the sugar is dissolved. Cool.
Select your spices and lightly crush them.
Add the salt, pepper and chosen spice combination to the kumquats in the jar and pour in the cooled liquid. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and give the jar a good shake. (You can skip warming the sugar and lemon juice, but the raw sugar doesn’t always dissolve well.)
Set the jar aside on the counter, shaking daily for a week to ten days, until the kumquats have softened but still have some firmness. Refrigerate. They can keep for a long time but are typically gone in short order.