Kumquats, stewed whole in heavy syrup after the pits have been painstakingly removed, are a traditional Japanese New Year’s delicacy. The following recipe is an adaptation that I worked out after my daughter Rena, who was only three years old at the time, mangled most of the kumquats one day while “assisting” me in removing the pits. Wanting to salvage the bruised fruit (and her ego), I stirred some pectin in. The resulting sauce was heavenly, and every winter since, when the bright orange fruit has come to market, we’ve made a batch of kumquat sauce. I highly recommend it spooned lavishly over vanilla ice cream, or stirred into plain yogurt. It’s also luscious when poured over custard pudding.
Wash the kumquats well, removing any leaves or stems in the process. Slice each kumquat in half and, with the aid of a toothpick, discard the seeds. Place the kumquats in a food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse-process once or twice to chop the fruit coarsely.
Place the chopped kumquats in a deep, sturdy pot. Add the cold water and rice wine, and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to maintain a steady simmer, cooking the fruit for 2 minutes. Add the lemon juice and then half the sugar, stirring well to dissolve. Add the remaining sugar and continue to cook the mixture for 2 more minutes.
Bring the fruit mixture to a rolling boil and add the pectin. Stir well but maintain a hard boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and, for long-term storage, ladle the sauce immediately into sterilized glass jars. Or, for more immediate use, pour the sauce into a heat-proof container and let it cool to room temperature before covering. Chill the sauce for at least 1 hour before serving with ice cream or yogurt.
© 1985 Elizabeth Andoh. All rights reserved.