I remember very clearly the first time I ever tried a cumquat. I was eight-years-old and sitting with my grandfather on the back porch steps. He was fond of growing plants and had nurtured his two cumquat trees such that they had borne an abundance of fruit – and though I recognise that my memory may not be entirely accurate, I swear there was more orange than green on those trees! That day, he reached up and plucked off a cumquat, and with a slightly mischievous smile asked me if I wanted to eat one. I will at this point remind you that I was only eight-years-old and thought that this was a baby orange. I began by peeling the fruit (which was not easy) before biting into the sour, sour, sour flesh – which was instantly spat back out. I turned to glare at the man sitting next to me whose body was shaking with silent laughter. He then picked two more fruits off the tree, popped one – skin and all – into his mouth and began chewing. He handed me the other and told me to try it whole. It says something about how much I trusted the man that I did what he said. To my surprise, it was sweet. He proceeded to tell me that the sweetness was in the skin. From that point on it became almost ritualistic. If the tree bore fruit and I was there with him we would share a moment by chewing on cumquats. The tree, and my granddad, both are no longer of this world, but every time I see the fruit or its name this memory comes back to me. I think that when the day comes when I live in a house with a back yard one of the first things I will plant is a cumquat tree.
Cumquat and passionfruit curd
Adapted from Christine Manfield’s Desserts
6 large egg yolks
100g caster sugar
125g unsalted butter
Wash kumquats and remove stalks. Puree, whole and unpeeled. Strain. Whisk yolks and sugar until pale. Add puree and passionfruit, and whisk over a bain marie until thick. Add butter piece by piece, whisking to incorporate. Remove bowl from heat and store in a covered container until set and firm.
160 gm cumquats, halved lengthways, seeds removed
220 gm caster sugar
1 tsp finely grated ginger
sterilised sealable jar
Place cumquats in a heatproof bowl, cover with boiling water and stand until cool. Drain and repeat twice more. Combine sugar, ginger and 1¼ cups water in a saucepan and stir over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves. Add cumquats, bring to the boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer until fruit is translucent and liquid is syrupy (about 40-45 minutes). Stored in an airtight sterilised container in the fridge.
50g caster sugar
75ml bottle brandy
sterilised sealable jar
Wash and dry the cumquats, the prick each of them several times with a fine skewer.
Combine the sugar with brandy and stir well until the sugar has dissolved in the brandy.
Place the cumquats in the jar, then pour in the sugar/brandy syrup. Top it up with more brandy. Seal the jar and place in a dry dark place, such as a cupboard. For the first week, turn over the jar once each day to help dissolve the sugar. Then, after that, turn over the jar once a week. In three months it will be ready to eat/ drink.