Citrus fruits come in many shapes, sizes and flavours… a large number of which have been cultivated as food by humans for many thousands of years. Apart from your more obvious/better-known fruits in the western world (ie; Lemons, Limes, Oranges, Mandarins), there are some less-common, but still very much enjoyed Citrus fruits available to diversify your crop and diet.
One of my favourites is the Nagami Cumquat which you can maintain very easily as a small tree specimen for places of constrained growing space. I have set my small tree up in a wicking-barrel which allows me to grow it freely on the side of the driveway, a highly exposed and hard-surfaced area which previously rated as productivity-ZERO.
The smaller but more numerous Nagami Cumquat fruits can be eaten whole and fresh (skin included!), or turned into a range of delicious products like preserves and sweets. The skin and pith is sweet while the centre is tart and acidic, these flavours meet in the mouth when eaten whole and fresh… flavour SENSATION!! 😀
It’s probably worth noting that there are a couple of other varieties of Cumquats which I find far less enjoyable eating. The fruit bitterness often leads these varieties’ usage being limited to mainly high sugar jams and marmalades.
This year my tree went into overload, exceptional cropping for a very small tree.
Sometimes you will see a larger tree in someones yard fully laden with fruit and they might not even know what they have. In these cases I believe its always worth a knock on the door to see if they’d be interested in trading fruit for some finished product so everybody wins.
The form into which I processed my excess fruit this year was dry-candied… i’m a sucker for natural sweets (candied peel, crystalized ginger, etc) and having a long-lived reserve of this stuff really floats my proverbial boat. Here is briefly how I did it;
- Slice your Cumquats into disks or smaller pieces… I like discs because you get the spoked-cross section… pretty pretty! Also, this way, most of the seeds will come out themselves.
- Bring the appropriate volume of sugar syrup to boil – you will need enough liquid to just cover the amount of sliced Cumquats you have. Sugar syrup is only 50% sugar, 50% water. So if you have 2 cups of water, you will add 2 cups of sugar… I used raw sugar.
- Once the syrup has gotten to boiling-point, turn the heat down and add the sliced Cumquats to simmer submerged by the syrup for about 10-15 mins. You will see the Cumquat skin start to go more transparent… you do not want to over-cook them at this point because it will turn into slop and become jam or marmalade.
- Strain and drain the slices with a sieve or colander… definitely worth keeping the fluid for turning into jelly or flavouring cakes etc. Wonder if it’ll turn into Cumquat toffee?? An experiment for another day.
- Restrain yourself…. the finished product is way too delicious… try your best to share with your friends and family! Given – it hasn’t been only me, but since last Saturday, most of a tupperware container of these has vanished into the nether! :-O
I don’t think these really need any other treatment but i’m sure they could be coated in dark chocolate to great effect.