January 8, 2008

The pickup: A pound of bitty, brightly hued kumquats.

The results: I’ve always regarded kumquats with a decorative eye rather than a culinary one. But these tiny winter fruits (which look like miniature oval oranges) have a distinct tart flavor. And unlike most citrus, kumquats’ sweetness is in their skins, not their flesh, so there’s no peeling required.

The New York Times suggests tossing small slices of fresh kumquat into salads or adding them to braises for their acidic punch. And many recipes I found called for candied kumquats, which are very easy to make.

Kumquats are like tiny oval oranges.

After cutting the tiny fruits in half (and ridding them of their seeds), I simply added them to the sugar-and-water mixture I had simmering on the stove. Ten minutes later, the sugary syrup had softened and sweetened the kumquats, and given their lovely golden color a rich shine.

After removing the kumquats from the pan with a slotted spoon and placing them in a bowl, I reduced the syrup down for a few more minutes. I then poured the remaining syrup over the kumquats and cooled them a bit before spooning them over bowls of vanilla ice cream.

Try pairing candied kumquats with a cake, or adding fresh kumquats to chutney.

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