Kumquats, red chilis and cocoa nibs – oh my!

Cyd and I harvested 30 pounds of kumquats from a tree in Pasadena, and with 30 pounds, there is room for creativity.  Beata gave the Co-op a large bag of organic cocoa nibs and came over to help us do some preserving.  The jars, the steaming pots of water, and the fruit all reminded Beata of her childhood in Poland, watching her mother put those lovely seasonal strawberries and cherries in jars.  Even hearing the ‘ping’ of jars cooling down evoked memories.

Kumquats with cocoa nibs and chili pepper, nearly at the canning stage

Kumquats with cocoa nibs and chili pepper, nearly at the canning stage

But I don’t think anyone has memories quite like this flavor.

Prepared halved kumquats were cooked with cocoa nibs.  Once softened, chili pepper flakes were stirred in and then sugar was added.  This preserve is moderately sweet, spicy/hot, and has that bitter richness from the cocoa nibs to balance out the acidity.  It also has a terrific contrast texture, smooth jelly and crunchy nibs.   I really want to stir in soy sauce and dip dumplings in this one, or maybe spread some on a warm tortilla.  What will you do?

The recipe is on the ‘Recipes’ tab, Kumquat Chili Pepper Preserves with Cocoa Nibs’.  The name may be pragmatic, but the flavors are a flight of fancy.


Blood Orange Marmalade

Mimi brought over 2 1/2 pounds of blood oranges, or 13 3 ounce fruits.  She wondered what sort of marmalade these would make – and so did I.  In order to really taste this rather subtle citrus, no flavoring, such as vanilla or spice, was added.  Start by soaking and scrubbing the fruit, then cut 1/4″ from each end and halve.   IMG_4607 Cut out a little triangle of core and put in the cheesecloth lined bowl for the pectin bag, scraping out any seeds at the same time.  IMG_4611Slice each half thinly, and measure.  2 1/2 pounds yielded 8 cups of sliced fruit.  Put in a large pot, add an equal amount of water and the pectin bag, and boil for 30 minutes, then cover and take off the heat.  At this point, let the mixture sit about 8 hours, usually overnight, or refrigerate for later use.IMG_4615

The golden rule for marmalade and preserves is to cook no more than 6 cups per batch.  Since this yielded 8 cups of cooked mixture, I split it into 2 batches of 4 cups each.  Bring the fruit mix to a boil, then add an equal amount of sugar, which in this case was 4 cups. Add 2 tbsp of lemon or lime juice.  Keep the mixture at a boil. Bring the canner to a boil and have your jars ready.  This reaches the gel stage in about 30 minutes, but can take longer, depending on your stove.  Ladle into jars leaving 1/4″ head space, and process for 10 minutes.  This yielded 18 4 ounce jars.



Butter Marmalade Thins – an icebox cookie

This simple cookie relies on just butter and marmalade for flavor.  Butter really is important for this one, rather than margarine, and use unsalted butter for best results.  This recipe seems like a big batch, but the genius app for this cookie is to keep a couple of rolls of wrapped dough in the freezer, ready to slice and bake for lovely warm cookies in 15 minutes.  And using your own marmalade, well, what could be better?

3/4 lb. unsalted butter

2 c. white sugar

2 eggs

5 tbsp marmalade (try using lemon marmalade!)

scant 1/2 tsp salt

5 c flour

2 tsp baking powder

Soften butter to room temperature.  This is a good time to use your stand mixer.  Cream butter until light, add sugar, mix, then add eggs and marmalade.  Mix well.  Mix dry ingredients, and add to wet dough in stages.  Form dough into rolls about 1″ across, wrap well in plastic wrap, and chill or freeze. Preheat oven to 350 F.  Slice dough into rounds about 1/4″ thick, and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet.  Bake about 15 minutes, or until lightly browned on the edges.  Dough spreads little as it bakes, but leave at least 1/2″ between slices.

Buter Marmalade Thins, an icebox cookie

Butter Marmalade Thins, an icebox cookie