Kumquats are quite expensive so you need to make something special with them. This recipe for kumquat marmalade with gin and vanilla is just that. Serve it with cheese or on griddled bread.
Makes 1 x 500g or 2 x 250g jars (recipe doubles easily)
300g granulated sugar
Juice of half a lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Wash the kumquats in cold water. Slice the fruit, removing any of the little seeds as you go. Put the fruit with the water and gin in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring the mixture to the boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer.
2. Cook the fruit until it is soft but still holding together (10-12 minutes). Add the sugar, bring the mixture to the boil gently and cook until it reaches the setting point (see below). When it does, add the lemon juice and the vanilla and stir gently.
How to check for a set in marmalade
Put a saucer in the freezer before you start making marmalade, and when you think the setting point has been reached, spoon a dollop of the mixture on to the chilled saucer, wait 2-3 minutes, run your finger through it and if you see a heavy wrinkle, the setting point has been reached.
If you are checking with a sugar thermometer, the setting point is 105C/220F but the setting point can be higher at times so you need to also check the set using the saucer method. Always turn the heat off before you check for a set – if you leave it on the marmalade may over-cook while you are checking. If it hasn’t set, turn the heat back up to a rolling boil and cook it for another minute or two and check again. Keep checking until you reach a set. Leave the mixture to settle for 5-10 minutes, then skim off any scum on the top. If the preserve contains pieces of fruit, stir it gently to disperse it.
Adding dried fruit or toasted nuts to the kumquat marmalade makes it a perfect preserve to serve as part of a cheese board – add it to the mixture at the end once you have reached a setting point. Make little pots of this to give as gifts.
To make Kumquat Marmalade with Gin, Vanilla and Golden sultanas: gently stir in 70g of golden sultanas to the mixture just before it is ready to be potted.
How to fill the jars
Take the warm jars from the oven, leaving them on the tray so it catches any drips during potting. Nudge them together so they are easier to fill. Place a metal funnel in the first jar and ladle in the preserve, filling it to the top. (It can help to put the jam in a heatproof jug to make it easier to pour instead of using a ladle.)
How to seal the preserve jars
If you are using a screw-on lid, seal immediately while the jam and jar are hot. Leave to cool.
How to seal and cover the preserve jars
If you are using waxed discs and cellophane covers, place the disc waxed side down on top of the jam, cover with the cellophane wrapper and close with an elastic band. Moisten the top of the plastic cover with a light film of cold water to shrink and tighten it. Leave to cool.
If you are using a screw-on lid, seal immediately while the marmalade and jar are both hot. Leave to cool.
If you are using Weck or Kilner jars, fill the jars almost to the top and close immediately. Leave to cool.
How to store newly-made marmalade and preserves
Store in a dark, cool cupboard when unopened and in the fridge, once opened.
How to choose preserve jars
We use Weck jars (which are adorable pot-bellied preserving jars with orange rubber ring seals) or Kilner jars. You can buy them at alpack.ie – they have an online and a physical shop. Homestores and IKEA both regularly stock preserve jars, even out of the natural preserving season.