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Stirring up memories


Kumquat May
November 25, 2005

      Looking for a great plant to give for Christmas?  Consider a kumquat tree.         This small evergreen citrus tree decorates itself with golden balls just in time for the holidays.  It is winter-hardy in our neighborhood, and the greenery is as pleasant to the eye as the tiny fruits are to the palate.

Or, check out the produce department at the supermarket.  Along about Christmas the small orange (sometimes yellow) balls of fruit appear in pint-sized crates, often with some greenery attached.

      For many folks kumquats are as much a part of Christmas as cranberries.  In my household in Texas, Santa dropped off a box by each of the jingle-bell trimmed stockings.

      The best way to eat a kumquat is to rinse it off and pop it into your mouth whole, peel and all.  But it can come to the dinner table in a variety of ways.  They are particularly good paired up with the traditional cranberries, either fresh or dried.

Cranberry Kumquat Relish

1 cup honey

2 tbsp. crystallized ginger

12 oz. fresh cranberries

2 (4 inch) cinnamon sticks

1 cup seeded and chopped kumquats

1 tbsp. lemon juice

      In a 4-quart sauce pan, heat honey, cinnamon sticks and ginger to boiling. Add kumquats and simmer until just soft. With a slotted spoon, remove the kumquats and the cinnamon sticks. Discard the cinnamon sticks. Add cranberries to honey mixture in sauce pan and cook until the cranberries burst. Remove from heat, stir in lemon juice and allow to cool. Stir kumquats back into the mixture and spoon it into jars. Refrigerate.

      This sweet-tart chutney is great alongside ham or pork chops, or use it as a topper for a cream cheese appetizer.

Curried Cranberry-Kumquat Chutney

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger

2 tablespoons dried cranberries

1 teaspoon curry powder

1 1/3 cups thinly sliced and seeded kumquats, divided

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

      Cook first 5 ingredients and 1 cup kumquats in heavy small saucepan over medium heat until reduced to scant 1 cup, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Transfer to small bowl. Chill until cold, then mix in remaining 1/3 cup kumquats and cilantro. Season chutney to taste with salt and pepper. Chill 1 hour.


Whole Preserved Kumquats

1 1/2  cups water

1 1/2  cups sugar   

2 quarts kumquats

      Boil together water and sugar for 10 minutes and set aside.

      With a sharp knife cut slits (1/2 inch deep) at right angles on the blossom end of each kumquats. Cook slowly in water about 10 minutes or until tender. Drain and add to prepared syrup.

Simmer syrup and fruit for 20 minutes (covered) and allow to cool (covered). Kumquats should be translucent.

      If you have loads of leftover turkey in the fridge, turn out this piquant dish with an Asian flair.

Exotic Kumquat Turkey 

2 tbsp. oil

1/2 cup celery, diagonally cut

1/2 cup green onion, sliced into 1 inch diagonal pieces

2 cups cooked turkey (or chicken)

1/2 tsp. dry ginger

1/2 cup kumquats, sliced and seeded

1 cup loosely packed snow pea pods

1/2 cup chicken broth or 1 bouillon cube and 1/2 cup water

1 tbsp. orange juice concentrate

2 tbsp. cornstarch mixed with 1/2 cup water

1/2 cup toasted whole almonds

2-3 cups cooked wild or brown rice

      Heat oil in skillet.  Add celery and onion; cook until limp.  Add turkey, ginger, kumquats, snow pea pods, chicken broth, and orange juice concentrate. Stir and cook 1 to 2 minutes until vegetables look bright green. Add cornstarch and water mixture, stirring constantly until juices are clear. Top with almonds and serve on a bed of rice.

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Trilla Pando is a member of the Southern Foodways Alliance & the Story Circle Network