With their glossy dark-green foliage and fragrant white flowers, cumquats—also known as kumquats—make excellent container plants, perfect for courtyards or to stand sentry beside front doors. Then comes the fruit—dainty, vivid orange globes or ovals, depending on whether your plants are Marumi or Nagami—and the question of what to do with it.
Biting into a raw cumquat is an arresting experience—the flesh is distinctly sour—but it is a pity to let the crop go to waste. You can use the juice in dressings, a common practice in Vietnam, where (as in China) cumquat trees are a symbol of the lunar new year and represent wealth and happiness in the year ahead. Squeeze cumquat halves over freshly shucked oysters or on grilled scallops in lieu of lemon wedges; or add the juice to a cocktail that needs a sour, citric boost.
Lesley Russell’s easy marmalade is a winning way to save some tangy cumquat magic for year-round eating. This quantity makes two jars, so if your cumquats came courtesy of neighbours who didn’t know what to do with theirs,
you could give one back to them.
Your jam will be brilliant on toast, of course, or spread on our brioche on page 32). It’s also a good choice for the kind of marmalade pudding that calls for sour oranges, such as Sevilles. In savoury cooking, try melting a generous spoonful of the jam with freshly squeezed orange juice and a dash of soy sauce to make a sticky glaze for roasted or pan-cooked duck.