I think this happened last Saturday, but let’s pretend it was Sunday because “Sunday Morning Kumquat Jam” sounds better than “Saturday Morning Kumquat Jam.” Having made my coffee, and contemplating breakfast, I stared at the leftover kumquats sitting in a mesh bag on my counter. They were starting to wrinkle a bit, losing their potency. I’d been snacking on them all week (when not using them to garnish cauliflower), popping whole kumquats into my mouth and puckering my lips at the ensuing sour squirt. You can even eat the seeds which I did enough times there may be a kumquat tree growing in my abdomen. I thought to myself, “These kumquats would make a mighty good jam because they’re so sour.” Then, before I knew what was happening, I started improvising a jam on the spot.
It was this easy. First I gathered the essential ingredients: the kumquats, a clean jar (and lid), sugar and–just for fun–Grand Marnier to add an alcoholic orange accent.
Then I prepped the kumquats. This was the hardest part of the job because slicing into them, some of the juice squirts out and you don’t want to lose that. So make sure your knife’s sharp. You don’t have to be exact here; you can just cut them in half and get rid of the seeds or you can make smaller slices. It’ll all cook down in a bit. Even if a seed falls in, no biggie. Put all the sliced kumquats into a pot.
Add about 1/2 cup of water, to start, and turn up the heat. I learned this technique from David Lebovitz’s post on No Recipe Cherry Jam. In that recipe you wait for the fruit to give off a lot of liquid. Here, the kumquats weren’t giving up that much; so what ended up happening was the water evaporated that I’d added and then I added more water and kept going until the kumquats had softened nicely (I could cut one in half easily with a wooden spoon) and at that point there was enough liquid in there still–from the water but also from the kumquats–it was time to add the sugar.
David’s rule is you measure the liquid and then add 3/4 the amount of sugar. I didn’t measure the liquid here; I just eyeballed about 1 cup and added 3/4 cup of sugar.
Meanwhile, I stuck a plate in the freezer. You’ll see why in a second.
So you turn up the heat on the sugar and the kumquats and everything will bubble up.
This goes on for a bit and eventually the foam subsides and you have a shiny, crystal-like orange liquid. As it starts to thicken, it’s time to test your jam. So take the plate out of the freezer, add a little of the scalding hot jam to it (be careful) and after a moment push the jam with your finger. If it wrinkles, the jam is done.
Also: I ate that kumquat here and it was amazingly delicious so I knew I was in good shape.
Take the pot off the heat and stir in as much Grand Marnier as you’d like (a tablespoon is probably a good idea). Then pour your jam as carefully as you can into your clean jar. You don’t have to sterilize your jar if you’re going to keep this jam in the refrigerator and eat it over the next few weeks (sterilizing is for making your jam shelf stable). So check it out: Sunday Morning Kumquat Jam.
To serve, I grilled up a big piece of bread, brushed it with butter and then topped it with lots of this good stuff.
This is easily the best jam I’ve ever made. The tartness of the kumquats plays perfectly against the sweetness of the sugar and the Grand Marnier gives it an adult kick in the pants. The next day, I spooned some kumquat jam over yogurt and that worked wonders too. Truth be told, the jar is almost empty and I only made this six days ago. So buy yourself a bag of kumquats and get busy making jam this Memorial Day Weekend. You won’t believe how fast it’ll go.