We have two small but prolific kumquat trees. Kumquats are very small citrus that are tart and sweet at the same time, and you eat the skin and all whole. Kind of scary. Not wanting to waste food, my daughter picked a whole batch of them and was determined to juice them. And she did, one tiny half at a time! There was about half a cup of juice in all, which she froze in plastic butter molds for future use in drinks, etc.
Then we had all these little half shells, so she carefully scraped the pith out of all of them and candied them. The idea was to make little candied shells in which we’d put little scoops of vanilla ice cream, lemon sherbet, or something yum. We tried a couple with homemade vanilla ice cream, and it was worth all the work.
The kumquats needed to dry round, like little bowls, so I picked some more kumquats (yes, there are still more!), halved them and used them as molds for the shells, which were put onto the halves like little hats.
All the split ones were set aside, and then everything was sugared and dried. Several years ago we candied orange and lemon peel and I pulled some out of the bags now and then for use in baked goods. Now we have candied kumquat peels and shells.
But we still had all those kumquat halves that we’d used as molds. We also had half a saucepan of simple syrup in which the kumquats had been cooked. So, not wanting to waste, we put the kumquat halves into the syrup and boiled it again until the halves were candied and then I put them in jars and sealed them. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with them, but they can be used to decorate desserts.
I also had another ginger beer recipe that called for slicing the ginger, cooking the slices in a sugar and water mixture until reduced, then using the liquid as a base for a ginger drink. The slices could then be sugared and dried and eaten. I keep candied ginger from Trader Joe’s in the car to snack on, because ginger helps with car sickness or an upset stomach. These homemade ginger slices were quite hot, so I think I’ll save them to use in cakes and pies instead.
So it was a day of sugaring, preserving and messing about in the kitchen. We now have seven quarts of pickles, a couple of bags of dried kale that is not only good to munch on, but great to crumble over rice or noodles, jars of candied kumquats, a jar of sugared kumquat peel, a bag of candied ginger slices, some miscellaneous jam, and lots of zucchini with more to come!