Kumquats: The best recipe for sour orange jam – style

Citrus fruits are a good remedy for crisis management. A look at the cold, wet UK is enough for that, where a hot lemon – trimmed with a worry-free dose of anti-flu drugs – is the most popular weapon against all types of nausea immediately after a cup of tea. And it’s also true: citrus fruits not only strengthen you with their vitamin C, they also smell and taste great in almost every form. And if their acidity would not make fun, their color joy definitely does. Who knows, maybe a walk through an orange grove can warm Putin’s cold heart? At least that is not the most bizarre diplomatic strategy that has been put forward in recent weeks.

That said, we need escapism more than ever. After four years of Trump and two years of pandemic, no one had any idea that such a sentence would be written down again in all seriousness, but unfortunately it is true. In short: The perfect way to distract yourself is to cook kumquat jam according to a recipe by the American cooking author David Lebovitz. Kumquats (you know, those weird bittersweet mini-oranges you eat with the skin on) because they are still in season, waiting for spring and to make the jam you need to cut mountains of them into fine strips in such a concentrated way that you do not need worry too much for them the world situation will.

And so must David Lebovitz, to cook many of his dishes at home replaces a yoga class. The recipes are a strange mixture of effort, accuracy and carelessness. To keep the nerves during the preparations requires a kind of Zen-Buddhist attitude. But later you have to admit: It’s worth it, with Lebovitz the result usually tastes so good that the reward center in the brain no longer wants to turn off serotonin production. One of his most famous recipes is a divine salt and butter caramel ice cream that requires you to sift all sorts of creamy masses, experiment with sugar smoke temperature and egg yolk curling point. But in the end, you never want to eat another variety again.

This jam also tastes delicious in yogurt

Kumquat not only has the bright orange in common with physalis (kom kwat means roughly “gold orange” in Cantonese), but also the fact that many do not know exactly what to do with the fruit. Also, it is not directly cheap. But above all, their skins are wonderfully sweet with delicate bitter tones (the flesh is sour and slightly bitter), which is why they – cut into very small pieces – also fit perfectly in a salad. A jam made from kumquats is often even finer than one made from oranges.

Lebovitz adds 2 unwaxed lemons to 450 g of kumquats for an extra kick of acid, which is a good idea. But one lemon is enough, the other is better to replace with a few more kumquats. Halve the lemon lengthwise and cut into fine strips, saving the seeds. Cover the lemon slices with water in a saucepan and simmer until they are translucent (which reduces the bitterness), about 5 minutes, then let drain. Cut the kumquats into fine strips and core them. Now fill the kumquat and lemon seeds in a gauze bag (or a piece of cotton cloth) and tie them tightly, their pectin (natural gelling agent, and no, unfortunately, gelling sugar is not a good alternative) is needed for the perfect consistency. Put the fruit, lemon slices and core bag with water in a steel pot, bring to a short boil and leave covered for 24 hours. The day after all with 400 g of sugar and – very good Lebovitz idea! Simmer with half a teaspoon of salt for 30 to 40 minutes to pickle, stirring occasionally, and pour into clean glasses while hot.

So far, so simple. But this is where the mistakes begin, because Lebovitz recommends 1.3 liters of water, which in my own experience is far too much. We left just over a quarter and more than tripled the cooking time. The truth is: The cooking process is a test of patience, where it is important to wait for the gelling moment. The duration and result also depend on the quality of the fruit, the number and size of their pits and their pectin content, the amount of jam, the conductivity of the pot and the exact temperature. It helps to fish out of the core bag before the cooking time is over, let it cool briefly and press as much of the slippery mass as possible into the pot before throwing it away. In short, the curing time varies, so everyone at the stove is on their own. It is good to have small plates in the freezer so that you can test the gel from time to time (put a little dab on it and see if it solidifies). However, the jam should not be boiled for too long or even caramelized until it is brown (you can dilute the latter with a little lemon juice if needed).

In the ideal state, kumquat jam is a little more liquid than orange jam, slightly glassy with fine streaks and very elegant in taste. You can refine it with kirsch, but it is best clean. On bread, she makes March the summer month. But it also tastes good with a little roasted nuts or almonds in natural yogurt.

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