February 14, 2010

Kumquats in Honey Ginger Syrup

Originally I had planned on making this for Tigress in a Jams January Can-Jam but was unable to get my hands on any kumquats. But it seems that the fruit Gods are now complying and kumquats are everywhere, just in time for Chinese New Year. Ranch 99, the fabulous Asian supermarket on Sepulveda, has some and even better, my friend Marysa let me raid her tree (after feeding me a delicious dinner that her husband Chris had cooked).

Prized for their beautiful color, which represents gold, their leaves, which represent money, and their shape, which signifies unity and perfection, kumquat trees are often given as gifts during Chinese New Year. Frankly, after last year any signs of prosperity are welcome in my home.

At first I thought this might be a fussy Victorian style preserve that doesn't translate to our modern palate, but let me tell you these babies are addicting! You taste the delicious citrus syrup before you bite into the fruit, which explodes in your mouth with a combination of flavors and textures, both buttery and puckery, unlike anything else you have ever had. They are yummy and will both surprise you and inspire your cooking with their multiple uses.  They are equally welcome in both sweet and savory preparations and sublime when combined with dark chocolate.

Kumquats have a short growing season so grab them when you see them and get canning. This is a pantry ingredient from that can elevate your cooking from the ordinary to the special. However much you make you will wish you had made more!

Kung hay fat choi!  (wishing you prosperity!).



  • Spoon over pound cake or dark chocolate torte.
  • Use in salad dressings
  • Mix into to yoghurt or spoon on top of panna cotta (pictured).
  • Slice into salads or serve with roasted meats.
  • Make sophisticated cocktails using the fruit as a garnish and a bit of the syrup for flavor. 
  • Honey tends to foam a bit more than sugar, don't be bothered by it just skim it off
  • You can substitute sugar for the honey if you like.
  • Feel free to omit the ginger or replace it with vanilla bean.

  • 2 lbs kumquats
  • 11/2 cups honey
  • 11/2-cup sugar
  • 4 cups water
  • 2-inch knob of ginger 


1.   Wash the kumquats and remove any remaining stems. With a paring make a small incision in each end of the fruit.

2.   Peel ginger and slice into 8-10 coins.
3.   Put honey, sugar, water and ginger into a preserving pan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Add kumquats and cook over low heat until fruit is tender and almost translucent, about and hour. Skim as needed.
4.   Cool fruit and refrigerate over night. Start you canner boiling. Return fruit and syrup to boil over medium heat and simmer for 10 minutes skimming as needed.
5.    Ladle fruit into canning jars dividing ginger evenly. Cover the kumquats with the syrup leaving 1/2-inch headroom. Remove any air bubbles. Wipe rims and place lids on screwing on lightly.
6.   Place jars in canner covering with more hot water to submerge the jars. Bring to a boil and process for 20 minutes (timed from the boil). Remove lid and wait 5 minutes before carefully removing jars. Place jars on towels or a cutting board. Let cool undisturbed for 24 hours.
7.   Label date and enjoy!


  1. This looks absolutely amazing, and I'm rather inspired to do it myself. I've really only done jams and jellies before, though, so I'm wondering if this can indeed be done with only a boiling water canner or if I'll need a pressure canner. It certainly sounds like there should be enough sugar to be safe without using a pressure canner, but I figure better to ask than not. Thanks!

  2. A boiling water bath is all you need for this recipe. In general a pressure canner is usually needed for low acid foods, meats, fish, soup and such.
    In some ways this is easier than a jam because you don't have to fuss over a set point. Good luck!

  3. Mmmm! These look fantastic! I am going to pick up some at the market and make them. Yum.

  4. I found some great kumquats at the Saturday Santa Monica market, rushed home and made this just as written. I wish there was a way to describe the perfume in the house while these were cooking and the glistening color of the syrup, like molten glass. This is my first attempt at canning (in at least 20-25 years), and I'm so happy with the results.

    Thank you, Nina. This is a huge hit with me.

  5. Janet, I am so glad your re-entry into canning went so well!

  6. So you don't bother with taking out the seeds? I've always done the tedious job of slicing and discarding the seeds, but if I don't need to I'll be making lots more of this! Kumquats make my favorite jam so I can't wait to try your recipe.

  7. Maureen,

    Call me lazy, but no I don't seed them. The thing I love about this recipe is how the fruit explodes in your mouth and if you seeded them you wouldn't get that effect. So yes, you do get a few pips in your mouth, but they don't bother me.
    Don't serve them to fussy guests:)

  8. Hi Nina, Thanks for your blog. Fun read. My Kumquat harvest was large. Couldn't eat enough fresh kumquats so decided to preserve them before they spoil. I'm going to try your method, with the boiling water bath. I'm guessing they will keep for about 12 months when processed this way.
    But I've also researched other kumquat recipies that don't require a water bath, but you keep them in a sugar syrup under refrigeration and use within 2 months. Do you have any experience this method?

  9. Cathy,

    These will keep refrigerated for a month or two, the sugar is a natural preservative, but they will not be "shelf stable". That said , don't be afraid of hot water baths, they sound like more work than they are.
    happy canning!

  10. I used this recipe as a starting point for some nice limequats. Added some cardamon pods. More tart but very tasty. The syrup is amazing in tea or soda! Thaks for the inspiration!

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  12. Hey Nina,

    Well, I back on board blog wise. These look amazing. It's just a pity that here in Australia we are coming into Winter. No kumquats! I'll have to wait or find some imports....which probably wouldnt be hard to get.I'll keep my eye out.XXX

  13. Hi, I just made a batch of this. (Awesome!) I ended up with an entire extra pint of just the syrup. Could I make this again and use more kumquats. I have a large family, 2 pints won't be nearly enough. I'm new to canning, so I'm not sure about doubling or how to increase the recipe. Thanks Jodie

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  15. Wow, thank you. Every year my kumquat tree produces more than I can eat and no one here seems to want any fresh ones. Maybe they will try a jar of these. If not, at least I will have them to enjoy.

  16. looks pretty easy and super tasty, I might try to cook it

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