The aroma of food being prepared is always one that I will associate with growing up in my parent’s house. If Dad wasn’t found pottering in the garden, he could be found around the pots of the kitchen. Making jams, preserves, fresh pasta, or some new recipe that he’d either discovered or concocted.
Sunday drives in our house also centralised around these two themes, if my brother and I weren’t being wedged into the back seat with three bags of sheep manure to throw on the garden between us (yes there were protests), we were sharing the back seat with polystyrene boxes of freshly picked fruit. Either way, we’d end up home feeling sick – from the smell of manure, or from eating far too many apricots, nectarines, strawberries, peaches, raspberries or whatever the horde of the day was.
As a kid I was never really interested in what Dad did with all this fruit, but ther was always a pot on the stove simmering away to create some kind of jam, chutney, marmalade or paste to be put in a jar, sealed with wax and placed into the pantry with the rest of the creations. Today however, I headed around to the parent’s house to learn how to make kumquat marmalade with my father. An exceptionally easy process, but I enjoyed the passing down of knowledge from years of perfecting timings and methods.
Makes about 4 Jars of Marmalade
1.5Kg of Kumquats; sliced and soaked overnight in water
1Kg of Sugar
First thing is first – obviously the sugar will denote how sweet the marmalade/jam is. The same rule can be applied to most fruits in that you don’t want any more sugar than fruit, otherwise it will be too sweet. Use about two thirds as much sugar as fruit as a general rule.
Bring the fruit and water mix to a gentle boil, which will soften the peel so there are no hard bits in the marmalade. After about 12 minutes pour in the juice of one lemon, this will assist with the thickening process as it is a naturally high source of pectin. Once the mixture has been boiling gently for fifteen minutes total pour in the sugar and mix through.
Initially when the mixture boils a froth will appear on the top, this will dissipate and the whole mixture will become a little clearer. You don’t want it too clear, the best marmalades are rich with colour. A good colour will be achieved by ensuring you boil the mixture at the lowest possible temperature to avoid the sugar browning.
If there are any seeds in the fruit mixture, these will come to the top throughout this boiling period and can be scooped off. After 20 minutes scoop a small amount onto a frozen plate. If the marmalade becomes gelatinous and holds part of it’s shape when you push it around the plate you know it will set properly.
Pour the marmalade into clean jars and you are all done. No reducing, straining, or long winded processes required.
Kumquat marmalade is really quite tart and not particularly to my taste, but can be used for most other jams and marmalades you would look to makle.