5 delicious ways to use kumquats: Preserved Kumquat, Kumquat Tart, Kumquat Liqueur, Upside Down Kumquat Cake, Kumquat Jam

This tiny citrus is tart at heart but comes wrapped in a sweet surprise. Here are five ways to use a kumquat crop.

Words: Jane Wrigglesworth

Kumquats are bite-sized citrus, about the size of a grape, resembling tiny oranges. Strangely, it’s the rind that’s the sweet part – the flesh inside is sour.

However, the whole thing is edible. Just pop one in your mouth and eat it, skin and all. I have the variety Meiwa, a round form with sweeter flesh so I enjoy eating them straight from the tree.

Another variety, Nagami, has lip-puckering flesh. The oval-shaped fruit isn’t as good to eat fresh but is great for preserves.

My kumquats are ripe from around August-September, but during the winter months the ripening, round orange globes look beautiful.

Preserved Whole Kumquats

Makes: 3 x 500ml jars
Time: 45 minutes

These can be dipped in melted chocolate and served with coffee or hot chocolate, added to salads or used as a colourful topping for a dessert or cake.


40-60 kumquats (depending on the size of your kumquats)
1½ cups sugar
¾ cup water
1 cinnamon stick
2 cardamom pods


Wash the fruit, then blanch them for 5 minutes in boiling water. Drain off the water, then dip them in cold water.

Pierce each kumquat through with a toothpick. Put kumquats in a saucepan and add the remaining ingredients. Stir constantly over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Raise the temperature so it boils, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer gently for 30 minutes.

Place the kumquats in sterilised jars. Pour in the syrup. The kumquats should be completely covered. Allow at least 1cm between the top of the fruit and the lid. Seal.

Kumquat Tart

Serves: 4-6
Time: 90 minutes (plus extra for chilling)

I use frozen sweet short pastry because it’s quick and easy, but if you have a favourite pastry recipe, use that. You could add the rind of the orange to homemade pastry.

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250g frozen sweet short pastry, defrosted
20 kumquats
juice of 1 orange
1 tsp kumquat liqueur (or orange liqueur),
see recipe at right
395g can sweetened condensed milk
4 large egg yolks
3 extra kumquats, sliced


Preheat the oven to 220°C. Grease a 20cm-wide tart tin.

Roll out the pastry and line your tin. Line the base and sides of the pastry case with baking paper. Fill with rice or ceramic baking weights. Place in the oven and cook for 8-10 minutes.

Take the pastry case out of the oven and remove the baking paper and baking weights. Cook the case for another 5-10 minutes until lightly golden. Remove from the oven and reduce the heat to 180°C.

Cut the kumquats in half and remove the pips. Place the kumquats, juice, and orange liqueur into a food processor and process until the kumquats are smooth and creamy. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and add the sweetened condensed milk and egg yolks. Whisk until combined.

Pour mixture into the pastry case. Top with slices of kumquat. Bake at 180°C for 25-30 minutes, or until the filling is set (when the centre of the tart doesn’t wiggle when shaken).

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Refrigerate for a couple of hours, until the filling becomes firm.

Kumquat Liqueur

Makes: 700ml
Time: 5 minutes (not including waiting time)

You can use vodka or white rum instead of brandy for this liqueur. Make it now, and it will be perfect as a Christmas gift. You can double or triple the recipe.


15-20 kumquats
2¼ cups sugar
700ml brandy


Pierce a hole through each kumquat with a toothpick, then place the fruit in a 1-litre jar with a lid. Add the sugar and brandy. Screw on the lid and turn the jar over several times until the brandy and sugar are combined.

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Set aside in a cool place out of sunlight for four weeks, tipping the jar once a day to help with the infusion. After four weeks, the sugar should be completely dissolved.

Remove the kumquats with a slotted spoon and set aside. Pour the liqueur into fancy bottles and leave to mature. An aged liqueur (3-6 months) will be thicker and sweeter. The left-over kumquats can be dipped in melted chocolate and eaten as a boozy snack.

Upside Down Kumquat Cake

Serves: 6-8
Time: 80 minutes


12-15 kumquats
150g caster sugar
250g butter (room temperature)
250g caster sugar, extra
4 eggs (size 7)
2 tsp kumquat liqueur, or brandy
120g self-raising flour
¼ tsp salt
140g almond meal
½ cup chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 190°C. Grease a 23cm round cake tin and line with baking paper.

Cut the kumquats in half and remove the seeds. Place the sliced kumquats and the first measure of sugar in a bowl, toss to cover, then set aside.

Cream the butter and second portion of caster sugar in a food processor or electric mixer until light and creamy. Keep the motor running and add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until mixed. Add the kumquat liqueur or brandy.

Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl, then stir in the almond meal. Add the dry ingredients to the food processor or electric mixer, a little at a time. Tip the batter back into the mixing bowl and stir in the chocolate chips.

Tip the kumquats and sugar into the lined cake tin and spread out over the base. Keep the cut side of the kumquats facing down. Gently pour the cake batter over the top of the kumquats. Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

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Kumquat Jam

Makes: 3 x 500g jars
Time: 60 minutes (not including waiting time)

If you want your jam to have more of a marmalade texture, don’t blitz it before bottling.


3 cups kumquats
6 cups water


Chop and deseed the kumquats. Reserve the seeds. Place the chopped kumquats and water into a large saucepan. Place the seeds in a muslin bag and add to the pot, submerging it. Leave to sit overnight.

Remove the bag and squeeze to remove moisture. Measure how many cups of kumquat and water you have. Measure out the same amount of sugar, eg for 7 cups of kumquat/water, measure out 7 cups of sugar. If using Meiwa kumquats, which are sweeter than other varieties, I use a little less sugar.

Heat the kumquat and water mix (without the sugar) and slowly bring to the boil, over a medium heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, or until the rind has softened.

Add the sugar and simmer for 30-45 minutes, until it reaches setting point – test every five minutes after the 30-minute mark. The less sugar you use, the longer it will take. To test for setting point, place a saucer in the freezer for 5 minutes. Remove, then drop a spoonful of the hot jam onto the cold saucer. Return to the freezer for 2 minutes. Touch the jam. If it wrinkles and feels gel-like, it’s ready. If not, keep cooking and test again in five minutes.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and blend until smooth, or to a consistency you like. Pour into sterilised jars.


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NZ Lifestyle Block This article first appeared in NZ Lifestyle Block Magazine.
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