An easy and unusual preserve made with winter kumquats, fresh ginger and dried red chillies. It has only a slight kick to it, but you can add more heat if you want a nose-blaster of a jam.
|Kumquat, Ginger & Chilli ‘Jam’|
Kumquats are one of my favourite winter fruits: I love their powerful citrussiness, and the way their skins turn to a translucent deep amber when you poach them in syrup. Try my Kumquat Compote (with a few musings on the origins of this rude-sounding word) and, if you have a sweet tooth, my half-candied kumquats dipped in bitter chocolate.
|This recipe was inspired by these beautiful kumquats. I added chilli and ginger
because both ingredients happened to be sitting on my windowsill when
I took this photograph.
This ‘jam’ goes a long way because it is so intense. It’s lovely with sharp Cheddar or a melting brie, and sensational with any creamy mild blue cheese. Try it with smoked ham, or dabbed over chunky country terrines or silky-smooth chicken liver pâté.
Also, it keeps well in the fridge: I’ve had this jar for about a month now, and its taste has definitely improved on standing. If you’d like to preserve this – it would go down a treat on a Christmas table, with hot glazed gammon – be sure to sterilise the jars, and to fill them to the brim with very hot jam before sealing them.
Kumquat, Ginger & Chilli ‘Jam’
700 g kumquats
1½ cups (375 ml) water
105 ml white wine vinegar
1½ cups (375 ml) light brown sugar
3 dried red chillies, de-seeded and finely shredded
a thumb-size piece of fresh ginger, sliced in three pieces
1 tsp (5 ml) whole black peppercorns
a pinch of salt
|The jam is ready when the syrup has thickened
and darkened slightly.
Rinse the kumquats but don’t cut them up. Put the water, vinegar, sugar, chillies, ginger, peppercorns and salt into a heavy-based pan and bring gently up to the boil, stirring now and then to dissolve the sugar.
Cook at a brisk bubble for 5 minutes. Now tip in the kumquats, turn down the heat, and simmer gently for 30 minutes or so, or until the fruit is very soft and glassy, and the liquid has reduced to a thickish syrup.
Watch the pan carefully, as there isn’t much liquid, and it can turn to caramel in an instant.
If you’re going to keep this in the fridge for immediate use, let the jam cool for a few minutes, then ladle it into clean jars. If you want to keep this in the cupboard for future use, sterilise your jars and plastic-lined lids (here’s how) and fill them to the brim with piping-hot jam. Press down gently with the back of a spoon to eliminate any air bubbles, screw on the lids and tighten. Let the jars cool for 30 minutes, and then tighten the lids again.
Makes two average-sized jars.