Five Spice Kumquat Jam 五香金橘果醬
By Ellen L. Published: 2016-04-07
I'm so happy with my latest jam! I feel like I've bottled up some serendipitous springtime sunshine in a jar. This is because the lovely golden kumquat is in season again and after making Chinese Candied Kumquats 糖漬金橘 last year, I decided this year to make some marmalade with it. Marmalade, for me, is always associated with Paddington Bear, that adorable little hatted bear from deepest, darkest Peru. His most favorite, absolutely preferred food was marmalade. When I think of him I always see him with one furry paw, sticky with orangey goopy goodness, just out of the marmalade jar. But enough of bears! Back to the jam at hand! I had never made marmalade before. But since the surprising easy success of my Easy Homemade Strawberry Jam, I decided to try making jam with kumquats. A bit more work, but oh my gosh darn it! This Five Spice Kumquat Jam 五香金橘果醬 is soooo addictively tasty, refreshingly sweet yet tangy, a touch of that distinctive citrus bitterness, all rounded out by the warm spiciness of five spice. Oh, dear, oh dear, I keep finding myself in deepest, darkest Fridge-ru, dipping one paw into the goopy golden goodness that is my very own marmalade jar!
The thing that is so inspiring in this easy method of making these jams is that I can just make a quick jar or two to keep in the fridge, just as long as we eat it all up in a week or so. No special jamming jars or lids, no need to find and purchase pectin, no sterilizing, no super long boiling. Just the joy of discovering gorgeous ripe fruits just come in season, buying a good bagful, a quick wash and chop, boil with sugar and your gorgeously hued quivering jam is ready to go. Plus your family and friends will loooove you for it.
For marmalade to truly be marmalade-y you have to have the chewy tender strips of translucent citrus skin mixed thickly throughout the jam. So slice up your kumquat skin to your preferred thickness, thin, thick, thicker, it depends on your preference. We went for thin, thin slices. The pulp of the kumquat will soften and disappear into the jam, leaving just the sliced skin for your chewing pleasure.
When I mentioned earlier that there is no need for pectin, I meant there is no need to buy packaged pectin. For jam to gel properly you do need pectin, but you can get it from natural means. A good chunk of lemon with peel on, apple peel and cores, or the seeds of citrus fruit all have natural pectin in them and can be used to make jam.
Previously I have chopped off a good 1 1/2" off the end of a lemon and toss it in with my fruit to cook down and it has worked perfectly to set the jam as well as adding a nice tang of fresh lemon to the jam's flavors (see our Easy Strawberry Jam recipe for more details). This time I tried using the seeds of the kumquats to set the jam, saving them as I sliced, popping them into a cheesecloth bag and boiling with the fruit. Yeah, it worked just fine, perfect jamminess!
Homemade kumquat marmalade is so gorgeous on it's own. Definitely converted me from a so-so marmalade girl (sorry, Paddington) to a super fan marmalade girl. Before I made the jam, perhaps because I was only a so-so marmalade girl, I was fussing over adding an additional layer of flavor to give the marmalade a kick. Hummm... a touch of rosemary and fresh ground black pepper ? Or maybe an infusion of licoricey star anise? Or lemon peel to add to the tang?
In the end I decided on a touch of five spice 五香粉, that swiss army knife of chinese spices, that they say encompasses all five flavors all at once: sweet, sour, bitter, pungent and salty. Just a touch, it's a strong spice, and it gave my marmalade a warm, spicy, almost sultry under layer of flavor. But gosh darn it all, I don't believe this jam needed it. Next time I'm making it plain and simple, kumquat marmalade rocks out all by itself!
Ummm...so finger lick'in good. Help, I can't stop eating marmalade! Someone hide this marmalade jar from me! And why is there a bear here?
How do you like your marmalade?
Five Spice Kumquat Jam Recipe
(makes 1-2 500 ml or 1 pint jars of jam)
1-2 500ml glass jars
1 lb kumquats, around 30-40 kumquats (450g)
1 1/2 cups sugar (300g)
2 cups water
1/4 tsp five spice powder
Prepare clean and dry jars. I like to swirl a bit of just boiled water inside the jar just to make sure all the germs are zapped. Careful your fingers, though, the jar gets hot!
Place 3 metal spoons in your freezer, for the jam set test you will do later.
Wash kumquats. Slice kumquats thinly, removing and reserving the seeds. Tie seeds in a piece of cheesecloth. Add kumquats, sugar, water, salt and seed bag to small pot, bring to a boil. Turn down to simmer and cook for 15-25 mins until temperature reaches 220°F (104°C) and the mixture seems quite thick. Add in five spice and stir to incorporate.
Test if jam is set enough with the frozen spoon test:
Use your prepared chilled spoon from freezer, dribble some jam on the back of spoon. Careful here, the jam is hot, hot! Once it cools, drag one finger through the jam on spoon. If your finger leaves a clear clean line through the jam, then the jam is ready. If not yet ready, cook for another few minutes and test again with another chilled spoon.
Once your jam is set, pour into your prepared jars and let cool completely. Keep in the fridge and eat up within 2 weeks, though, if you're like me, you'll be more in the fridge than out of it until the jammy jar is licked clean as a bean.
Berry Tart - Summer in a Mouthful
Easy Homemade Strawberry Jam 士多啤梨果醬
Chinese Candied Kumquats 糖漬金橘
Haw Flake Candy 山楂餅