Happy February! I am glad the longest month of winter is over and am looking forward to being this much closer to spring. This week also marks the Lunar New Year on Thursday and even if you don’t traditionally celebrate this holiday, sometimes it helps break up the winter doldrums to welcome in the Year of the Rabbit in some small way.
In much of Asia, Kumquats are believed to bestow luck and prosperity and thus are commonly consumed and given as gifts in celebration of the Lunar New Year. I have often seen kumquats in the grocery store and though I’m always intrigued, they still beg the question: what do you do with a kumquat? Luckily, this month’s Fine Cooking issue had the answer: eat them!
You can actually eat the whole fruit, minus the seeds. The skin is delicately sweet, but the flesh is very tart, a nice combination. Eat them whole as a out of hand, or slice them up with a salad. They can also be candied or made into a marmalade to serve with desserts.
I took the latter approach and followed this recipe for a Kumquat-Riesling syrup. It was so delicious and addictive –I ate it with (coconut milk) ice cream and it added a nice, light citrus flavor. It would also be good on a trifle, stirred in with yogurt, or whipped up with some heavy cream to serve on the side of cake and other dessert.
It was an easy recipe, though slicing and removing the copious seeds from each fruit was a bit labor-intensive. But it made a HUGE batch that you could probably halve, and it keeps in the fridge for about two weeks.
2-1/2 cups Riesling
2/3 cup mild honey, such as clover
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 (1/4-inch-thick) slices peeled fresh ginger
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
1/4 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped out (I just used about 1 t vanilla extract)
1 package kumquats (2-3 cups), sliced 1/8 inch thick and seeded
Combine all the ingredients except the kumquats, plus 1/2 cup water, in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
Add the kumquats and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for about 30 minutes, until kumquats are soft and translucent. Allow to cool to room temperature before serving.