Sometimes I forget how much I love making fresh Jam. Now that I’m back helping the new class of Master Food Preservers, it’s inspiring me to get back to my canning roots. Yesterday I stared at a bunch of Kumquats wondering how on earth I was going to use them before they went bad. I hate wasting food! Naturally, my first thought was dessert or a cookie of some kind, but I couldn’t find a recipe I liked. Then I realized I could easily make a small batch of jam and use it as a glaze for pork roast later this week! BINGO! Come to Mamma!!
Now, I’m going to warn you. This jam takes time to make! It’s a labor of love to chop up those gorgeous Kumquats into tiny pieces. You’ll need to separate all the seeds and pulp from the rinds and keep everything! This recipe does not use pectin, it uses the natural pectin in the seeds and the rinds to help thicken the jam. Kumquats are the opposite of most citrus in that the sweetness is actually in the rind of the fruit and not in the pulp. That’s why when you eat a Kumquat you pop the whole thing in your mouth and don’t peel it. My husband fondly remembers having a Kumquat tree in the back yard of the house where he grew up. He says they ate a few of them, but mostly they were fun things to throw at his older sisters.
Chinese New Year is coming up and Kumquats are symbolic of gold and good fortune, because the fruit looks like little gold coins. I’m not sure how someone would feel about using gold coins to pelt your sisters while they were playing in the backyard. They probably didn’t feel fortunate to be hit with them, but I suppose it might be acceptable; at least to little brothers. Knowing my husband’s family, I’m sure his sisters threw quite a few back at him too! They are indeed fortunate to have each other, so perhaps Kumquats as the symbol of good fortune is accurate after all!
Shall we get started? For the record, I’m calling this a “jam” though technically it’s more of a marmalade. I consider it jam because we’re going to prepare it like a typical fruit jam and not go through the steps of treating the peels as you would in a traditional marmalade. Because the sweetness is in the rind, not the pulp, we’re treating the rind like fruit! Make sense? Ok, let’s gather our materials!
You will need a sharp knife, cutting board, two medium bowls, a medium saucepan, two squares of cheesecloth, butchers twine, four half-pint canning jars with two-piece lids, water bath canner with a lid, a jar lifter and some kitchen towels. Remember this is a small batch jam. Four jars may not seem like a lot for the effort, but a little goes a long way.
Kumquat Cinnamon Ginger Jam
1 lb Kumquats, diced and separated
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
1/2 piece ginger, diced
Start heating the water in your canner. You’re going to want it hot when the jam is done. Lay a few kitchen towels on the counter to protect the hot jars from the countertop. Make sure your jars and lids are clean, sanitized and ready to go.
Using the knife on the cutting board, cut the kumquats into 8 pieces each (they will be small). Remove the seeds and some of the pulp into one of the bowls, place Kumquat rinds (there will still be pulp on some pieces) in the other bowl. Save everything!
Once all the Kumquats have been cut, place the rinds in a medium saucepan with the water and sugar.
In one square of cheesecloth, place cinnamon stick and diced ginger. Tie closed with twine and place in pan with Kumquats.
In the other square of cheesecloth, place all the seeds and pulp from the Kumquats. Tie closed with twine and place in saucepan with the rest of the ingredients.
Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and let simmer until you reach the jelling point. For me, this was almost 40 minutes.
Remove both cheesecloth sacks from the mixture and process in half pint jars, for 10 minutes in your water bath canner.
It doesn’t make a lot, but the flavor is bright and sweet!