A little bit sweet and a little bit tangy, this Spiced Kumquat Confit is simmered with cinnamon stick, cloves, and fresh ginger "coins." It requires about 30 minutes of active time, and it will elevate everything from toast, to yogurt, to ice cream! I promise!
👩🏻🍳 Tamara Talks - About Kumquats
Having grown up in southern California, kumquats were a "thing." We had a vigorous tree when I was in elementary school, and we picked and ate them straight away. I don't remember my mother ever cooking with them, but she may have. She was a great cook.
After leaving southern California at age 16, I never saw them again until we moved to south Texas. Citrus is a major agricultural crop in the Rio Grande Valley, and kumquats usually make a brief appearance in our markets in October or November. This year, I was determined to start cooking with them.
What is "confit?"
You've heard of duck confit? Duck is slow-cooked in its own fat. However, "confit" applies to all sorts of fruits, vegetables, and meats.
The word confit (pronounced "kon-FEE") derives from the French verb confire, which simply means to preserve. Traditionally, confit simply refers to any sort of preserved food, whether it's meat, fruit, or vegetables. This preservation takes place by slowly cooking food in a liquid that is inhospitable to bacterial growth. With fruits, this is generally a very concentrated sugar syrup*; with meats and vegetables, a pure fat.~~ Serious Eats, What the Heck is Confit?
In the case of this kumquat confit, the fresh kumquats are simmered in a concentrated simple sugar syrup. The results are spectacular! Cooking the kumquats in simple syrup is something of a shortcut method, and thus it lasts for a few days rather than months. To get the full benefit of confit fruit, all moisture must be removed.
What are kumquats?
Kumquats are grape-sized citrus fruits that fill your mouth with a burst of sweet-tart citrus flavor when you pop them in whole. Yes, indeed! These delightful little fruits can be eaten peel, seeds, and pulp in all. In fact, the peel is the sweet portion, while the pulp provides the tartness.
Are kumquats healthy?
Kumquats are rich in both vitamin C and fiber. You get more fiber in them than you do in a serving of most other fresh fruits! A 100 gram serving (about 5) contains these nutrients:
- calories - 71
- carbohydrates - 16 g
- protein - 2 g
- fat - 1 g
- fiber - 6.5 g
- vitamin A - 6% of RDA
- vitamin C - 73% of RDA
- calcium - 6% of RDA
- manganese - 7% of RDA
For more nutrition information on kumquats, see What are Kumquats Good for and How Do You Eat Them?
📋 Ingredients You'll Need
Here is a quick look at the ingredients in the recipe – it’s handy to use at the grocery store or as a summary of what you need. Skip to the recipe for quantities.
- kumquats - Choose smooth, bright fruit, and be sure to look for any mold. Remove any damaged fruit immediately.
- sugar - White sugar is fine. I like piloncillo and turbinado sugar, but it messes with the brilliant color of the kumquats.
- cinnamon stick
- whole cloves
- fresh ginger
- orange liqueur - Orange liqueur is completely optional, but I do recommend it! I keep triple sec in my pantry for cocktails, but also for dishes like Veracruz style fish and chocolate mousse. You can use any orange liqueur you might have on hand, or omit it entirely.
This section provides a little more detail than the recipe card (below). The recipe card is streamlined somewhat.
- Prep the kumquats - My kumquats were quite small, so many of them just needed to be cut in half. I cut the bigger ones in thirds. Reference the photos for size.
- De-seed the kumquats - This is an optional step! I eat whole kumquats regularly, and the seeds just add texture. However, for this kumquat confit recipe, it is worth the extra time (about 10 minutes). A pairing knife gets the job done. Some of the pieces won't have seeds.
- Prepare the kumquat confit - Dissolve the sugar in the water by bringing to a boil. Simmer until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the sliced kumquats, the sliced ginger, and the whole spices. Simmer until the kumquats are tender (about 15 minutes).
- Steep the kumquats and spices - Remove the saucepan from the heat, and allow the mixture to completely cool. Add the orange liqueur if using.
- Finish the kumquat confit - You can serve it immediately by removing the whole spices and ginger "coins." It's great at room temperature. You can also put it in the refrigerator overnight, then remove the spices and ginger. Store it in the refrigerator either way.
How long can I keep kumquats before I make the confit?
Kumquats are pretty perishable. Every time I buy them, I have to pick through them before putting them in the refrigerator. Usually I just have 1 or 2 that need to be tossed. While "common wisdom" suggests you can keep them in the fruit bowl for a week, I'm skeptical. I think they're highly perishable, and may have already spent a few days at the market. I go through them, and then put them in the refrigerator.
How long can I keep the kumquat confit after it's made?
The confit should be fine for 5 days in the refrigerator - if it lasts that long. We have a hard time getting through 2 days, and we're only 2!
Can I freeze kumquats?
The short answer is YES! Due to their small size, you can just freeze them whole. Make sure you use a good airtight container or freezer bag!
🥐 Pairing Suggestions
- As shown in the photos, we love this kumquat confit on a toasted slice of crusty bread slathered with chèvre and topped with the confit. It's dessert-worthy IMHO!
- Mix it in with plain, vanilla, or honey yogurt.
- Spoon it over ice cream. YES PLEASE!
- I'm working on a chocolate mascarpone mousse for Christmas, and this kumquat confit will be the garnish. Keep an eye out!
Boost the spice/ginger flavors by cooling overnight in the refrigerator.
Freeze the kumquats in an airtight container if you can't get around to making the confit right away.
While this kumquat confit is not "healthy" because of the sugar, it can be part of a healthy diet. On whole grain toast with cheese (ricotta, chèvre, etc.), it is not bad. If you add it to nonfat plain Greek yogurt as a sweetener, you're headed in a good direction. Garnish a decadent dessert with the confit, well, what can I say? All. Things. In. Moderation.
Kumquat Confit Recipe
- ½ cup sugar
- ¾ cup water
- 8 ounces fresh kumquats - sliced
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 3 whole cloves
- 4 slices fresh ginger "coins" - see photos
- 1 tablespoon orange liqueur - optional
- Slice kumquats. If they're small, this may be in half. If they're large, you may want as many as 4. Refer to Post photos.
- De-seed the kumquats using a paring knife. This is optional. Refer to Post Instructions.
- Dissolve the sugar in the water by bringing to a boil. Simmer until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the sliced kumquats, the sliced ginger, and the whole spices. Simmer until the kumquats are tender (about 15 minutes).
- Remove the saucepan from the heat, and allow the mixture to completely cool. Add the orange liqueur if using.
- Remove the ginger "coins" and the spices. Serve immediately, or refrigerate.
NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and MyFitnessPal.com. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.
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