Tuesday, 3 August 2021

My Homemade Cumquat Marmalade

"Cumquat marmalade is the best of all breakfast preserves, with a scented sharpness and a golden glow all of its own. " Stephanie Alexander, 1996. 

This is a lovely marmalade, and I don't know why I have resisted making it for so long. Possibly because my Mum made perfect Cumquat (Kumquat) marmalade and I wasn't sure that I could match hers. Never mind, I've made a batch now and I couldn't be happier with it, albeit a small batch though which often works best. The recipe I have used is very well researched, oh yes, after all in my previous life I worked in libraries.  Piles of my old recipe books were scattered around my desk, and I really think Mum was looking over my shoulder when I made this batch. I narrowed it down to 6 books and went from there.

I didn't do any online research, I went totally old school, and used old recipe books gathered from a variety of sources like the W.M.U. Cookery Book undated (1960s?) and the 17th edition, everyone a tried recipe in aid of the Queensland Presbyterian Missions, and the Schauer Fruit Preserving Book (1963) which my old friend Tess gave me many years ago. And of course, the Rockhampton State High School Golden Jubilee Cookery Book, 1919-1960, which is where I went to High School. This was definitely Mum's book though, I certainly wasn't at High School that early. There wasn't an index in that book, so I eagerly looked through all of them.

After all, home cooks have been making Cumquat (Kumquat) Marmalade for donkey's years haven't they, so the basics are the same. However there are still lots of different ideas on how to make the best batch. There are some gems in these old books and I enjoyed just looking through them during the process of coming up with this recipe. This recipe is the one I will be using from now on, and I hope you try it as well. If you are given some cumquats, give this a go, the marmalade is lovely, and scented and golden and delicious on toast for brekkie or tea.

I suggest you don't wash the fruit more than an hour before processing them. Select fruit that is ripe but firm. Mine were given to me, many thanks to my generous friends, P & J, a few were a little bit soft, but they still cooked up well. (Sorry there's no photo of the fruit.)These cumquats were an oval shape, which is generally called F. Margarita. When they are picked, store the cumquats in a single layer in a cool place for no more than 24 hours if possible. My Mum always had a cumquat tree growing at home, and in our very large Central Queensland backyard it looked tiny, but she made copious quantities of marmalade every year from the bounty of fruit it produced. These were a small round cumquat, which was really tart, definitely too tart to consider eating fresh, although some of the varieties now are more palatable. I think she called it cumquat jam back then though. It's all semantics really I think, and I love the word marmalade. The interesting thing though is that I didn't eat much of it when Mum was making it, but now I love it.

 The flavour of the cumquat fruit is quite complex, bitter, but sweet and scented all at once, however they aren't suitable for eating uncooked. I suggest you don't wash the fruit more than an hour before processing it. They need little preparation, just a good wash and don't need to be peeled before use which is a bonus. If you're buying cumquats from the markets, the best place, or even the supermarket, inspect them carefully before you buy, as they begin to deteriorate as soon as they are picked and should be ripe. It's awful to be disappointed with the fruit when you arrive home with it.

 I just need to find a nice sunny spot now, so that I can plant a tree. They are widely grown here in Australia as ornamental trees, although they are a native of China. We often grow them in tubs on the verandah, however if grown in the backyard, the trees flourish, and the fruit and the blossom are highly perfumed. They are beautiful trees, full of blossom. Even though they resemble a perfect miniature orange, they are not a true citrus fruit. They only have 3-6 sections, whereas the real citrus fruits have 8-15 sections. 

 A healthy cumquat tree produces fruit from Autumn through to Spring in Australia, so they should still be available if you want to make some marmalade. However it feels like Spring here already.

Let's make some lovely Marmalade:

This quantity made 4 smallish jars.


700 g cumquats

3 cups water

750 g warm granulated sugar (to warm the sugar, place in an ovenproof bowl, and heat in an oven pre-heated to 150 C for 6 minutes) 

20 g Fowlers jamsetta (optional) and ensures your jam will set (Available from the supermarket). Instructions for use are on the back of the packet. I used it this time because I have a couple of packets I was given, however lemon juice is also good.

Lemon juice can be used instead of Jamsetta. Use the equivalent of 2 tablespoons lemon juice to 1 kg (2 pounds) of cumquats. Add the lemon juice to the cumquats and water and stand overnight.


Discard any stems and wash your fruit. Weigh the cumquats whole.

As a general guide, allow 2 cups of water and 750 g sugar (1 1/2 lbs) to each 500 g (pound) of fruit. I reduced the amount of sugar slightly to an almost equal ratio of fruit and sugar, as I removed a few cumquats along the way when I discovered they weren't suitable, and I didn't want my marmalade too sweet, and it turned out perfectly. A couple of my friends reduce the sugar by almost half, but that results in quite a tart jam. It's a matter of personal preference, as to how you like your marmalade, sweet or not so sweet.

Cut cumquats into quarters, (I prefer to cut mine into quarters, rather than slice them finely, as the extra skin becomes beautifully translucent and attractive when cooked.)

Flick out and reserve the pips (seeds) in a separate small bowl. 

Cover the cumquats in a separate bowl with the rest of the water and the lemon juice if you are using it.

Cover the bowls, and leave seeds and fruit to soak overnight.

The following day, drain the pectin liquid from the pips and set aside, and discard the pips. Some of these pips are very small, so I suggest straining the liquid through some muslin to catch all of them.

Place the fruit pulp, and all of the water including strained water from seeds  in a large thick aluminium saucepan .

Cook the pulp and strained water gently until the peel is soft. 

Meanwhile, warm up the sugar in the oven in an oven proof dish before adding to the pulp. Warm sugar dissolves more quickly and perfectly.

Add the warm sugar and jamsetta to the saucepan of pulp, and boil rapidly, stirring for 20 to 30 minutes. Try not to be distracted and take your eye off the stove. Mr. HRK took over the stirring for me and did a great job. The marmalade took 25 minutes to gel beautifully. Test it by placing a small amount on a small saucer which has been in the freezer. Run your finger through the middle and it will leave a nice clean line if it is ready, it then often goes crinkly on the surface. Don't be tempted to boil it for too long though, or it will go too dark. After 20 minutes, it's important to start testing it every few minutes as it starts to gel very quickly.

Allow to slightly cool in the saucepan until a skin starts to form, then stir gently to distribute the fruit throughout. 

Use a jam funnel, when filling bottles with the marmalade for safety reasons and to save any mess from occurring. Bottle in hot sterilised jars, sealing while still hot.

If you are reading this and you are a jam maker, I would love to hear your thoughts on this recipe. It's always nice to exchange ideas, as cooking is a constant learning process.

Pectin if you use it

Thanks for dropping by.

Warm wishes

Pauline x


  1. Cumquats are the best citrus fruit! They have a unique texture and aroma that are simply irresistible. The marmalade looks terrific.

  2. Waw! Sarà buonissima! Complimenti!

  3. My comment is not going through. I would call this jam because of the equal weight sugar and fruit but regardless I'm sure it tastes good.

    1. It's an interesting discussion Tandy, jam v marmalade. The Australian Women's Weekly who are very credible in Australia with cookbooks, put out a little jam cookbook, which I forgot to look at when I was making this marmalade, can't believe that, any way they used much the same ratio of fruit to sugar as I did and they have called it marmalade. Perhaps the terminology is changing like it is with biscuits, and lemon butter. Thanks for your comment, it got me thinking. Hope you are well.

    2. Tandy your comment came through. Was it your second try? I was hoping Follow it wouldn't have the same issues that Feedburner does.

  4. This looks great! Love a good marmalade, and it's been ages since I've had a cumquat one. Your research certainly had a terrific result!

    1. Thanks KR, sometimes it pays to do the research, as long as it doesn't become confusing. Hope you can manage to have some cumquat marmalade soon, it really is delicious.

  5. i love cumquat marmalade. i found a recipe that was really easy and made a batch a few years ago. but the best one that i've ever eaten was a jar made by a friend which lingered in the back of the fridge for 2 years then i found it again and oh my! so wonderful...

    1. Yes this marmalade is like a good wine, just keeps getting better.I'm motivated now to make another batch next year, if I can find some cumquats. I was thrilled with this batch. Thanks Sherry.

  6. This marmalade is stunningly beautiful, Pauline. I love kumquats and have only preserved them whole. I will definitely try this when they are in season again up here. (is the spelling difference an Australian/US thing? Like chiles/chillies?)

  7. I think the spelling difference must be an Aussie thing, certainly I have never seen them spelled with a ku here. Interesting eh? thanks so much for the compliment.


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