Monday, January 6, 2014
In the midst of a dark, gray winter here is a burst of color worth savoring.
Maybe your winter hasn't been as dark or gray as it has been in my neck of the woods. I am totally jealous if that's the case (I'm talking to you my Southern California friends!). Perhaps you love that sort of wintery weather. I'm not judging, but it's just not my thing. Nine years in the Pacific North West cured me of any love for the constant dreariness of a rainy winter.
My family and I took a break from the gray and found a snowy paradise at the top of a glacier in Switzerland last week. The cloudless blue sky and perfect white of the ice and snow were just the thing to refresh and recharge me for the new year.
Back at my town market for the first time in a couple of weeks I noticed a definite change in the produce available. The citrus is starting to make its way into Germany from Italy and Spain. Tables covered in Italian lemons and clementines stacked in tight pyramids, stems and leaves poking through here and there. It was a beautiful sight to see. I'm hoping to find something new and fabulous that I've never seen before- like the summer and fall that brought currants, gooseberries and quince. What sort of new tastes will the winter bring? I can't wait.
In the meantime, here's a little taste of brightness to start things off. Not new to me, but a harbinger of things to come. I hope you can find kumquats near you because they are one of a kind with their sweet, tangy skins and slightly bitter flesh. You can pop them in your mouth whole, cook slices until they're sweet and candied or make this wonderful small batch preserve. I first tried them in California and with every taste I imagine sitting out in my old backyard with the warm sun on my face and the scent of the citrus blossoms in the breeze.
Makes about 1 pint. Recipe from Food in Jars.
For the printable recipe, click here.
This is a simple way to dive into small batch jam making. You can make one small recipe and not have to mess around with sterilization, canning pots or boiling lids. This recipe makes just enough to fill two half pint jars- one to keep and one to give to your favorite neighbor. The preserves are perfect spread on buttered toast or spooned over vanilla ice cream.
1 lb kumquats
2 cups water
1 1/4 cup sugar
Wash the kumquats well. Quarter each and with the tip of a sharp knife remove the seeds and the inner membrane. Reserve the seeds and membranes. Slice the remaining skins and pulp into thin slivers.
Place the sliced kumquats, water and sugar into a large pot. Wrap the reserved seeds and membranes in a square of cheesecloth and tie the bundle with the corners of the fabric or with kitchen twine. Place the bundle in the pot (the seeds and membranes are pectin rich and will thicken the preserves). Bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat. Cook for about 20 minutes or until the preserves are thickened and the temperature reaches 220 degrees on an instant read thermometer.
Pour the preserves into 2 half pint jars and refrigerate.