Have you ever seen a cumquat? They’re not all that common but they are a beautiful plant to have in the garden. The little golden fruit hang like baubles on a Christmas tree. They’re so pretty I have been known to snip off a small branch and place it in a vase in the house. In China the trees are decorated for Lunar New Year and often given as gifts.
We recently returned home from a weekend at my parent’s house with a basketful of cumquats. What to do? Cumquats are unique amongst citrus in that the peel is sweet and the most palatable part of the fruit, the flesh being much too tart to eat without the peel. I wanted to do something special with the fruit but due to its size I didn’t want to do anything too fiddly. Cumquats are generally eaten whole, the peel counteracting the sour flesh, or just the peel is eaten. I decided to do something where the fruit remained whole- less work for me!
Cumquat brandy was the answer. I had some brandy sitting in the liquor cabinet, leftover from last year’s Christmas cake, and plenty of sugar in the pantry. That’s all you need! You wash and dry the cumquats, prick them a couple of times with a darning needle and place in a sterile jar or bottle. Add sugar (I used a little over 2 cups for a litre bottle), then fill the bottle with brandy.
You need to shake the bottle every day for week, then once a week after that for a fortnight, to dissolve the sugar. Then you can let it sit (out of sunlight) for a couple of months to allow the flavours to develop. You can strain the cumquats from the brandy and serve as a dessert, dipped in dark chocolate would be delish! And of course you are left with an amazing syrupy cumquat brandy!
Have you ever tried cumquat brandy? Or do you have a favourite homemade liqueur?