Saturday, January 2, 2016

Creative in the Kitchen: Kumquats

Miss K's kumquat tree produced quite a yield this year. Our little three foot fruit tree brought in about 5 pounds of tiny fruits (with the help of a good rainy season and some hearty mushroom compost). While plenty of these vitamin C rich bites were eaten straight up- and shared with others- I ended up with two pounds that needed 'put up' before they went bad.

Last year Miss K and I stirred up kumquat preserves; one in jelly form, one in marmalade style, and a batch of candied kumquats. From those test recipes, we found the jelly form our favorite with the candied version a close second.

This year, with a need to distract myself (son shipping out), it seemed a good idea to play with last year's test runs. Instead of my standard jams and jellies, I decided to focus in on honey and spice; two things I already had on hand and enjoy immensely. Honey is a perfect preservative with numerous health benefits and a serious shelf life. Spice, well, I intended to use cinnamon and cloves, however, when rummaging through the herbal cabinet the scent of cardamom and anise spoke to me. Upon rubbing a few pods together in my hand, I determined to blend them together for a unique aroma. A few basic recipes from the internet and I was on may way to playing in the kitchen.

I took two pounds of washed kumquats, stems removed, and simmered them in just enough water to cover. After about 10 minutes they had plumped and split (not all of them split, but that's okay). Drained and returned to the pan, I poured in a quart of honey along with a palm-ful of cardamon pods, about 10 star anise pods, and a tablespoon or so of clove buds. This simmered until is smelled divine- about 10-15 minutes.
Heat off and slightly covered, this wonderful concoction was left to sit overnight steeping in the wondrous perfume.

The next day, I strained the honey. Kumquats were placed in jars with the infused honey poured over to cover. Those amazing herbs were dried in the dehydrator to be ground and used in all sorts of yummy ways. Finally the remaining honey was jarred and set to use as well.

How do we use all this?

Kumquats can be eaten, added to baked goods, dried for a tasty snack, and added to hot tea.

Spices can be ground, added to anything needing a sweet hint of spice.

Honey is wonderful on anything!