Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Kumquat Queen

Life in our backyard centers around harvest - right now it's citrus time. Most of our trees are still getting over the early December frost of 2006. We had about 6 satsumas, 4 Meyer lemons, no blood oranges, but about a million kumquats and calamondins. (Satsumas are easy to peel mandarins, few seeds usually, ready to eat green in late September or October, hold on the tree pretty well through December. Calamondins are a cross between satsumas and kumquats.)

I made 2 batches of Meyer lemon/kumquat marmalade already - half a dozen half-pints per batch. Trying to save them for Christmas presents - they go pretty fast. My neighbor across the street has more lemons than they can use, so I will probably use some of theirs.

I picked a bunch of kumquats yesterday - the tree started leaning so I got the ripest ones. The tree sets fruit continuously for several months so there are ripe and green ones. I am in the process of making candied kumquats; have to boil/cool them over a couple of days. Also made a batch of kumquat-only marmalade. I am gratified by the popping of the jars in the kitchen.

Now the husband is getting jealous of all the kumquats I'm using - he wants to make pickled kumquats and kumquat brandy. We made quite a few quart jars of kumquat brandy with the last ones last winter, but the recipe says to wait for 5 years before drinking.

A friend came over while I was working on kumquats - bringing two boxes of mandarins that someone gave him. Now we have towers of fruit. Usually keep it on the covered patio to stay fresh but we have a freakish warm weather spell now, it was about 76F today, not going to be cooler than 62 tonight. We had record breaking snow less than a week ago. Mother Nature definitely acts bipolar during these gulf south winters.

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