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Kumquat Cardamom Marmalade

June 13, 2013

Kumquat Cardamom MarmaladePin it!

Have you ever tasted a kumquat?

Kumquats are like citrus fruit in reverse: bitter-sour* on the inside yet sweet on the outside. And by outside, I mean the rind; you can eat the pith and peel! How cool is that.

So what better citrus to turn into whole-fruit marmalade than one whose rind is sweet as candy?

Not that I set out to make marmalade and decided on kumquats… On the contrary, the whole enterprise was kumquat inspired!

Freshly-picked kumquats!

An abundance on a friend’s backyard tree (yes, the same backyard responsible for my bounty of apricots last summer) was too tempting to pass up. My friend had been wanting to marmalade-ize her kumquats and give the preserves away as gifts, and I was eager to help.

Kumquat tree

Besides, the bright orange kumquats dotting the little tree were so plentiful that simply snacking on a few of them, fresh and raw, wasn’t going to put much of a dent in things, despite our best efforts.

Kumquat MarmaladePin it!

As you bite into a kumquat, the fresh crunch of the sugary peel gives way to a small amount of sharply sour citrus juice. A seed or two surfaces from the bitter pith. The citrus oils tingle on your lips.

Making Kumquat Marmalade

You could nibble away at only the peel and leave the delicate star-shaped center intact, but I prefer the contrast of bitter and sweet that you get from eating everything but the seeds; it’s what makes the marmalade so irresistible as well.

Making Kumquat Cardamom Marmalade

The night before our Marmalade Day, I made a list of flavors that might taste nice with kumquats (limited by my lazy reluctance to stop at a store, and thus by what I had in the house). I wanted to doctor up half of the marmalade with a little twist to it. The list included:

  • rose water
  • kaffir lime leaves
  • cinnamon sticks
  • nutmeg
  • vanilla
  • dried hibiscus flowers
  • fresh mint leaves
  • cardamom

Sliced kumquats for marmalade

Of course by now you know which of these eventually won us over. We made one batch of classic kumquat marmalade, and one with cardamom and brown sugar. (Both recipes are below.)

Making Kumquat Cardamom Marmalade

I still think many of the other options are good ideas, too; let me know how it turns out if you try any!

The cardamom brown sugar marmalade has a lovely balance of tart, bitter, and sweet from the modest amount of citrus juice in the kumquats. The subtle scent of cardamom adds a little warmth and intensity to the flavor.

Making Kumquat Cardamom Marmalade

The cardamom marmalade didn’t gel quite as nicely as the plain kumquat marmalade, but I’m still pretty happy with the texture. It might be the case that the ground cardamom kept it from gelling as well, but I’m more inclined to believe that it’s because we canned that one first, and left the classic marmalade simmering for about 20 minutes longer.

Kumquat Marmalade

(Marmalade can take up to two weeks to fully gel; both types of jam later gelled more nicely than it seems in the photos, all of which were taken on the day of canning.)

Making Kumquat Cardamom Marmalade

If you like, you could skip the ground cardamom and infuse the jam using only the whole green cardamom pods. I’d still add the ground cardamom next time; I’d just give it a little more time on the stove before canning.

Kumquat Marmalade

The marmalade is excellent on crackers, English muffins, Greek yogurt, you name it… I also had an epiphany when I was out to brunch this past weekend: I bet it would be amazing smeared onto crepes.

Kumquat Cardamom MarmaladePin it!

* Why isn’t there a word in English for “bittersour” the way there is for “bittersweet”?

p.s. Another lovely use for kumquats was just posted last week on the blog Keep Calm and Eat On.

Freshly-picked kumquats!

Print both recipes. (PDF)


Kumquat Cardamom Marmalade

Makes enough to fill 3-4 half-pint jars (1½-2 pints).

~ 40 kumquats (14 oz.), rinsed well, thinly sliced, and de-seeded (about 3 cups)
~ 6 cups water (or 2:1 ratio of water to chopped fruit)
~ 1 tsp. ground cardamom
~ 12-20 green cardamom pods (as many as you have the patience to fish out again later)
~ 1 cup turbinado (or brown) sugar
~ 1½ cups sugar
~ ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from about 1½ lemons)

How to make it:

1. Rinse and thinly slice the kumquats, removing seeds from the slices as you go. In a large bowl or pot, measure out a 2:1 water-to-fruit ratio, add the ground cardamom and green cardamom pods, and let soak for 2 hours.

Making Kumquat MarmaladeMaking Kumquat Cardamom Marmalade

2. Transfer to the stove and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour. Then fish out and remove each of the green cardamom pods.

3. Stir in the sugars and fresh lemon juice, then bring back to a boil and cook over medium-high heat until the marmalade starts to gel (this could take anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes).

Making Kumquat Marmalade

4. To can: ladle hot marmalade into hot, sterilized quarter-pint or half-pint jars, leaving ¼” headspace, and process in a boiling water canning bath for 10 minutes. (Read my Canning 101 post about Strawberry Jam for more information on home canning.) Store canned marmalade in a cool, dark pantry, or refrigerate once open.

(Once canned, marmalade might take up to two weeks to fully gel.)

Kumquat Marmalade

Makes enough to fill 3-4 half-pint jars (1½-2 pints).

~ 40 kumquats (14 oz.), rinsed well, thinly sliced, and de-seeded (about 3 cups)
~ 6 cups water (or 2:1 ratio of water to chopped fruit)
~ 2½ cups sugar
~ ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from about 1½ lemons)

[Follow instructions as above, but leave out the cardamom.]

Making Kumquat Cardamom Marmalade

Kumquat Cardamom MarmaladePin it!

Print both recipes! (PDF)

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65 Comments leave one →
  1. June 13, 2013 9:26 am

    Ooh I love kumquats! This sounds delicious.

  2. June 13, 2013 10:06 am

    gorgeous photos! I want it right now on a big hunk of bread.

    • June 13, 2013 11:03 am

      Thanks! Oh man, me too… but we (uncharacteristically) have no bread in the house! (It’s because Paula is the baker but she’s had a finger injury this week and can’t knead dough…) I don’t think she’d forgive me for buying storebought bread, so while we wait out the injury, I’ll be enjoying some of the marmalade with plain Greek yogurt.

  3. June 13, 2013 10:24 am

    Fabulous post! Fabulous recipe! I love kumquats too!

  4. June 13, 2013 11:17 am

    This is so inspiring! What a great list of ideas for kumquat marmalade. Cardamom is hard to beat though.

  5. June 13, 2013 12:03 pm

    Never tried or heard of kumquats (I even had to look it up in the english to spanish dictionary)!but it looks delicious!im a big fan of orange marmalade so I bet I would love this one!

    • June 17, 2013 9:54 am

      Nice! You got me curious, so I just looked it up in an English to Spanish dictionary, too. :) And yes, anyone who loves orange marmalade is pretty much guaranteed to love this, too!

  6. June 13, 2013 1:02 pm

    Kumquats are my guilty pleasure my friend, this marmalade looks fantastic :D


    • June 17, 2013 9:56 am

      Thanks, Uru! How could kumquats be a “guilty” pleasure, though? They’re citrus fruit– and not even very sweet as citrus fruits go– so I think you can still feel pretty healthy, even after eating a lot of them. :)

  7. June 13, 2013 2:20 pm

    I only ever tried a Kumquat for the first time ever recently (they’re very hard to get here). I was very impressed by them, and now am very impressed with your marmalade, it seems lovely!

    • June 17, 2013 9:58 am

      Thanks! You’re in Barcelona, right? I used to live there for a while, too, and I must never have seen kumquats there– unless I wasn’t paying attention– since I don’t even think I knew what a kumquat looked like until I moved to California. (This Barcelona/kumquat conversation just gave me an idea though– if you can find them there, I bet they’d be so good sliced into sangria!)

      • June 17, 2013 11:38 am

        It would go really well with sangria! I had one yesterday and I’ll post it if the photos turn out fine.

  8. June 13, 2013 2:51 pm

    Beautiful and delicious – it looks fantastic!

  9. June 13, 2013 4:12 pm

    It’s been a while since I’ve eaten kumquats. I do love them though, and you’re right… the marmalade is something special! The idea of adding cardamom is beautiful. I also like the list of other ingredients that you considered adding – especially the cinnamon, rosewater and vanilla! Yum! Great photos. When I can get my hands on some kumquats, I’m making this lovely recipe. Thanks!

  10. June 13, 2013 4:43 pm

    Kumquats are amazing and some of my favorite fruits – adding cardamom to the marmalade sounds delicious! Gorgeous photos too!

  11. June 13, 2013 5:00 pm

    Wow – I make seville orange marmalade but have never made cumquat. love the idea of adding spices for extra zing!

    • June 17, 2013 10:01 am

      Nice! Seville orange marmalade sounds amazing, too. I love the bitter/sour/sweet combination. The spices might not be necessary, but they’re definitely fun to play with!

  12. June 13, 2013 5:05 pm

    This marmalade looks absolutely gorgeous and very pretty. I certainly wouldn’t mind getting one as a present, although I’ve never had the pleasure of trying a kumquat.

    Also, I’ve never heard of using hibiscus flowers in cookery but it sounds like a very clever and fascinating idea. I suppose using them would be similar to using rose water or lavender? When I make this recipe I’ll probably use kaffir lime leaf or cardomon and brown sugar like you’ve done, thanks for the recipe.

    • June 17, 2013 10:10 am

      Thanks for commenting, Sean! I think hibiscus flowers are more often used in drinks than in food, but they’re definitely used in many parts of the world– in hibiscus tea in Egypt and in Mexican agua de jamaica. (Whoa, I just searched and came across this Wikipedia page— I guess hibiscus tea is popular in a LOT of different countries…) Hibiscus is also used– in small amounts– mixed with other flavors in “zinger” storebought tea bags that are pretty common in the U.S. at least (lemon zinger, orange zinger, raspberry zinger, etc.), and it can be used to make bitters for cocktails– something that I didn’t realize until a friend gave me a gift of her homemade hibiscus/grapefruit bitters!

      I bought my dried hibiscus flowers (which I’ve still never tried using) on a whim a while back at a local Mexican grocery store.

  13. June 13, 2013 9:21 pm

    Some beautifully constructed photos there! Yum! x

  14. June 14, 2013 3:40 am

    Mum used to have lots of kamquat trees. We would just pluck it off the tree to make some juice. Marmalade sounds like a good idea to use up the lot :)

    • June 17, 2013 10:31 am

      Oo, lucky! I can imagine it would take a LOT of kumquats to make any decent amount of juice though… (although my friend’s tree definitely had plenty to spare, even after our marmalade-making!)

  15. June 14, 2013 4:57 am

    I always felt a bit embarrassed asking for kumquats in the store….it sounds a bit naughty. I will have to ask though to make this!! Thanks!

  16. June 14, 2013 3:11 pm

    Hi there! Your posts are always beautiful! I’m passing along the One Lovely Blog Award to you. :)

  17. June 14, 2013 5:41 pm

    I love the idea of kumquat and cardamom marmalade. You certainly cannot get this at your average grocery store! I would so smear this on toast in the morning or even bake with it. YUM!

  18. June 14, 2013 6:44 pm

    Thank you so much Allison for including me on your post. I’m very flattered to say the least. I am so glad you enjoyed my post this much to include along your own. Thanks again. And kumquats rock! They are so underrated. Our grocer usually brings just a small crate and half of it doesn’t get sold. That marmalade would be awesome on top of so plain vanilla ice cream too! :)

    • June 17, 2013 10:39 am

      Yes! It’d be amazing on ice cream, too. (I swear I had “Greek yogurt, ice cream, you name it…”) in the post at first, but then I deleted “ice cream” since I thought that sounded too decadent. (Haha, I should have stuck with it… there’s really no such thing!)

      That’s awesome you have a grocer who regularly stocks kumquats, even if they don’t all get sold! I agree, they are completely underrated.

  19. June 14, 2013 9:42 pm

    Yum. I have a little stash of kumquats that I mean to make marmalade with if I don’t eat them all first. :)

    • June 17, 2013 10:40 am

      Nice! Even a small batch of marmalade would be worth it I think, but then again if you only have enough to either make marmalade or eat them raw, that’d be one tough decision… :)

  20. June 16, 2013 3:32 am

    Yumness! Kumquats are the best! I made a marmalade with kumquats, vanilla and vodka – had it for brekkie this morning in fact on hot buttered toast. Totally going to try your version next – it sounds amazing!

    • June 17, 2013 10:42 am

      Oo, yum! Vodka is one thing I didn’t think to add to my list, but that combination sounds amazinggg…. I was so close to making a vanilla version that I might try (half a batch with mint and half a batch of) your version next year!

  21. June 17, 2013 11:37 am

    would you believe, i’ve never had kumquats before? i do have a major major canning project this summer and your tips are fantastic, i will definitely be referring to it prior to the whole process.

    • June 18, 2013 12:23 pm

      Oh man, you should try to find kumquats so you can taste them! What’s your major canning project? Whatever it is, I’m looking forward to reading about it on your blog… :)

      • June 18, 2013 5:43 pm

        i’m giving away little jars of homemade blueberry jam as favors at my wedding this autumn. blueberries are my beloved’s all time favorite fruit and i just personally love tackling a new challenge, so this favor will represent the both of us. i’m torn between keeping it very simple with just plain blueberries or adding in another flavor component. i’m a simple girl…

      • June 28, 2013 4:00 pm

        Wow, that is such a nice idea for a wedding favor; I love it! It’s also wonderful that you could find something that will represent both of you so nicely. Maybe you should make some little test batches of blueberry jam with different flavors like vanilla, cardamom, almond, lime zest, etc., but just put one additional flavor in each, and see what you like!

  22. June 18, 2013 7:26 am

    That sounds delicious!

  23. June 18, 2013 7:55 am

    très bonne recette et j’adore les kumquat ! :)

  24. June 18, 2013 1:30 pm

    such a delicious and gorgeous looking marmalade; love kumquat, and your recipe is a keeper! I was thinking of you as I posted a stuffed tomato recipe, all things tomato reminds me of you : )

  25. June 18, 2013 8:04 pm

    I’ve never had kumquats before but this sounds like a nice reason to try them..

    • June 28, 2013 3:48 pm

      Yes! This is an excellent way to try kumquats– though I’d definitely make sure to taste a few fresh and raw, too, if you can get your hands on some, because they are so tart, tasty, and unique!

  26. June 19, 2013 7:34 am

    I wish I had access to fresh kumquats, around here they’re kind of bland. I’m sure it’s because they’re trucked in from far away. This is a gorgeous marmalade!

    • June 28, 2013 3:49 pm

      That’s so sad that the kumquats you can get there are bland. The ones I’ve tried are anything but bland (!) so I find that really remarkable and sad… maybe they would still make a decent marmalade though? You could combine them with some lemons or oranges!

  27. June 20, 2013 3:19 am

    There is only one island in Greece that produces these delicious fruits; Corfu. They also make a liquor and it is delicious too! I am sure this marmalade has a very bold and profound taste!

  28. johncpicardi permalink
    June 30, 2013 11:28 am

    Thanks for posting this!

  29. July 25, 2013 7:02 pm

    beautiful! I have never tried this fruit but sounds delicious. Thanks for taking the time to document this!

    • July 27, 2013 12:06 pm

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. :) And if you ever get the chance to try fresh (or marmalade-ized) kumquats, I say definitely go for it!


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