Sweet preserved kumquats

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Sun pods

koon inspirations. (i’m absolutely sure of it) Shape like an oversized grape, taste like a very sweet lemon that can be eaten whole, peel and all, even when plucked directly from the tree.

I’m sure unlike lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruits, et al. they have to practice rolling. i fail to see how it can come easy to them.

I imagine them gathering at training camps even, to learn how to become sour. they probably take turns pouting and frowning, giving each other feedback like (wee little kumquat voices) “scrunch your face up even more, that’s right! now stomp up and down and clench your fists…”

And please, don’t get me started on the name. It’s safe to say, anyway you slice them; just plain weird.

no wonder why i love these little buggers.

Sweet preserved kumquats

1 & 1/2 pound organic kumquats
juice of 4 lemons (about 2/3 of a cup)
4 tablespoons sea salt
1 tablespoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed
1 tablespoon black pepper, crushed
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, lightly crushed
1 & 3/4 cups maple sugar (or a natural brown sugar like turbinado or demerara) 1/2 gallon jar

1. wipe each fruit with a damp paper towel, then with a dry one. make sure they are 100% free of water as this can cause mold during the preserving process. it is a good idea to let them sit out in a warm dry place for an hour or so after cleaning.

2. warm the maple sugar and lemon juice slowly in a small saucepan until sugar melts. turn up the heat and boil for 2-3 minutes, just until the mixture looks slightly syrupy. leave to cool in pan.

3. when crushing the spices, make sure the fennel and cumin still retain some shape. you don’t want to crush them to a powder. the black pepper can be crushed as fine as you like. combine the salt and spices.

4. slice off the button ends of the kumquats, and then slice the entire fruit in half lengthwise. if you see blatant seeds take them out. but you don’t need to dig out the very small concealed ones. slicing the kumquats completely in half allows you to easily add the spice mixture, just toss the whole lot together in a bowl, then transfer to a 1/2 gallon jar and pour the syrup over top.

or you could become a momentarily crazed beauty loving pickler like me and decide that they would look gorgeous spice stuffed and left with their koon-like orbs intact. this means that you will have to slice almost all the way down the center and then stuff each one individually, pressing them back together afterward. and to be perfectly honest, i have no idea how ‘gorgeous’ of an orb these will be a month down the road. but you know, i try.

I do know that whole or halved after 3 or so weeks in the sun, with a once-a-day shake, these will be a chutney-like preserved citrus that will probably be nothing like you’ve ever had before. unless of course you have an indian grandmother that still makes pickles the traditional way but lives in california and has kumquats growing in her backyard.

You’ll want to keep them either on a sunny windowsill or outside in the sun if you are in a warm clime. if you put them outside, be sure to bring them in at night. when making pickles like these, the timing depends on the temperature and will vary. give it a check at the 2 week mark, and then every couple of days after that. it’s really up to you how soft you would like to let the kumquats become. i like mine still a bit toothsome, but definitely soft enough to chew freely. as the citrus breaks down, the syrup will become thicker. once they are to your liking, store them in the fridge for a year or more. at this point they will be broken down enough to fit in a quart container. or better yet, distribute them into even smaller containers and go through one at a time.

You can eat this anywhere you would an indian pickle or chutney – accompanying all manner of curry, flatbreads, or mixed rice dishes. i particularly like it simply atop warmed basmati rice with a spoonful of yogurt for a quick lunch.

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