Are you one of those people whose friends are always giving a little bag of this or that? I am. My friends know that I don’t like to waste anything and so often their excess becomes this weeks project on how to use what ever it is they have given me. Such was the case when a friend gave me a small sack of kumquats. I knew that they were a type of citrus and I had heard that the rind was edible and tasted sweet, but that the flesh was quite acidic and sour. Acidic is not one of my favorite flavors but I thought, there must be something I can do with these outside of making marmalade, which I don’t really like.
The answer came amazingly not after an Internet sleuth but after digging around in my recipe clippings, Kumquat digestif. A digestif, for those of you who might not be familiar with the term, is it is a drink that’s imbibed as an aid to digestion after a meal and is often more alcoholic than an aperitif which is served before. Armagnacs, cognacs, scotch, brandies and whiskeys and some heavy and sweet wines such as, Madeira, port, and sherry, all of which I like, are digestifs. So based on how much I like all of the aforementioned, I thought the Kumquat version would be perfect. I also had a party coming up and thought it would be fun to try the Kumquat digestif on my friends.
The recipe is from Sunset Magazine, November 2009 and I find it interesting that I had clipped a recipe for a fruit I had never tried and one that I knew to be acidic in taste. Funny how some things happen.
Makes 2 ½ cups
Time About 20 minutes, plus infusing time of at least 3 weeks
½ cup sugar
2 cups vodka
10 kumquats cut in half lengthwise, plus 5 to 6 whole
Several branches fresh thyme
In a medium saucepan, heat sugar with ½ cup water, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Let cool to room temperature.
Stir in vodka. Pour mixture into a decanter or jar and add kumquats (halves first) and thyme. Chill at least 3 weeks. Serve ice-cold, in shot glasses.
I’d definitely try this again and my guests gave it a “two thumbs up” rating too. The article said that this was good over ice cream too.
A little history: There are several kinds of kumquat, round and oval. The kind I was given was the oval variety. Kumquats come from trees that are native to south Asia and the Asia-Pacific. The earliest historical reference to kumquats appears in Chinese 12th century literature. They were introduced to Europe in 1846 and to North America shortly thereafter. The English name “kumquat” derives from the Cantonese word kam kwat, which translates to “golden orange”.
An interesting article: Here’s an interesting story written in 2008, by Susan Russo for NPR, Kumquats: Discovering the Sweetness of Sour. It contains a lot more information and some tasty sounding recipes.