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CELEBRATING THE CHINESE NEW YEAR WITH KUMQUATS
From The Bounty of Central Florida cookbook by Valerie Hart

As the Chinese enter a new year they must put the past behind them. Houses are cleaned and freshly painted, all debts are paid, new clothing is purchased, and even hair styles are changed to symbolize new life and a new beginning. Homes are decorated with flowers and filled with signs painted red to represent vitality and gold to ensure wealth and good fortune. The feast on New Year’s Eve to honor their ancestors will have on display an altar filled with food and burning incense to insure good luck from the gods for the coming year. At the stroke of midnight, the sky will erupt with fireworks as everyone goes into the streets to wish neighbors, friends and strangers a happy new year. The next morning, gifts are exchanged and the feasting begins again, lasting until nightfall. Shark Fin or Bird’s Nest Soup, fried crab legs, steamed mussels, barbequed pork, chicken with oyster sauce, steamed vegetable buns, assorted fried rice, and steamed fish with black bean sauce are but a few of the delectable dishes offered in abundance. Regional and familial traditions determine the various choices, but superstition dictates the inclusion of black moss seaweed to increase their wealth, dried or fried bean curd to fulfill happiness, fish to insure togetherness, and uncut noodles to bring long life. Marvelous sweet desserts, such as almond cookies, egg tarts, and steamed almond sponge cake are served with platters of fresh apples, bananas, pears and lichee nuts. And, at the end, the Kumquat will be presented as the most important tradition of all to usher in the New Year.

In China, kumquats are called “Gam Gat Sue”. Gam rhymes with the Chinese word for gold. Gat rhymes with the Chinese word for luck. The tiny green leaves symbolize wealth. The shape of the kumquat is their symbol of unity and perfection. Everyone who eats the fruit will be insured good fortune, prosperity and happiness.

Kumquats have the distinction of being the only citrus where the skin is more edible than the pulp. When ripe, the skin turns a deep orange and is sweet to the taste. The three most prolific varieties of kumquats found in central Florida are the ‘Nagami’, or oval kumquat, the ‘Meiwa’, or large round kumquat, and the ‘Marumi’.

The oval Nagami is the most common of the three. Although its skin is delectable, the pulp can leave the palate with an acrid aftertaste. A cold snap will sweeten it some. The skins, pulverized in a food processor and combined with sugar, cinnamon and ginger, make a delectable jam.

The large round Meiwa has a bright orange skin that is marvelous to the taste with a delectable pulp that leaves just a hint of tangy aftertaste. These are so good that it is a shame to do anything except pop them into one’s mouth for pure pleasure but, since it is impossible to consume all the fruit from the prolific tree during its short season, the excess lends itself to delicious marmalade, tangy condiment or savory dessert when preserved whole in a sugar or rum syrup.

HINTS FOR WORKING WITH KUMQUATS:

Pick only those of bright orange color and firm skins. Discard those with dark imperfections or if they appear shriveled or feel soft to the touch. Kumquats with the stems still attached may be stored in the refrigerator up to one month.

PRESERVED ‘MEIWA’ KUMQUATS

Yield: 12 – pint jars
3 pounds large round ‘Meiwa’ kumquats
2 1/2 cups golden rum
1 cup triple sec liqueur
2 cups water
1 stick cinnamon
4 cups granulated sugar
Optional: Sliced sugared ginger (specialty stores or Renninger’s Twin Markets, “O Nuts”)
6 – pint jars with lids

1. Set jars into a dishwasher on the hot rinse cycle without detergent. When rinsed, line up on a clean surface. Set caps and lids into a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat.
2. Wash roundquats. Insert a small sharp knife all the way through the fruit from the stem through the bottom. Insert it again in the opposite direction, creating a cross. Cut all the way through so air and moisture will be able to fill the center. This is important so the quats will not collapse after cooking, making the skins shrivel and harden to become inedible.
3. Combine rum, Triple Sec, water, cinnamon and sugar and bring to a boil, stirring. Boil, uncovered, 10 minutes.
4. Add roundquats. Bring to a full boil again. Boil, uncovered, 20 minutes, or, depending upon the size of the fruit, until the quat is soft and cooked within. (How will you know? Remove one. Slice in half. Taste.)
5. Drain water from caps and lids.
6. Set a few pieces of sugared ginger on the bottom of each jar. Fill with roundquats and liquid. Do not crowd because the quats will absorb liquid. Cover and screw lids on as tight as possible. Shake each jar and wash under warm water. Push lids several times. They will “pop”, but, as the quats cool, the tops will become tight.

NOTE: If using oval kumquats, increase the sugar by 1 cup.

NOTE: Recipe may be doubled.

SPICY KUMQUAT RELISH
Yield: Approximately 2 Cups

1 pound ripe kumquats
1/4 cup thinly sliced crystallized ginger ("Oh Nuts", Renninger's Twin Markets on Hwy 441 in
Mount Dora)
1 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper, or 6 ounce can green chili peppers
1/4 cup chopped dried apricots

1. Boil kumquats 30 seconds. Rinse under cold running water. Slice in half lengthwise and remove seeds. Combine with remaining ingredients.
2. Cook in a non-reactive pot or slow-cook crockpot on low heat at least 2 hours. Cool. Serve with pork, chicken or fish.

KUMQUAT CHUTNEY
Yield: 8 half-pint jars

3 pounds whole kumquats (approximately 8 cups)
1 pound sweet Florida white onions
1 1/2 pounds combined green, yellow, red, and/or orange bell peppers
12 ounce bottle hot banana peppers
4 ounces peeled fresh gingerroot, grated or minced fine
1 large head garlic
Juice and finely chopped rind of 3 Key limes
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 pound golden raisins
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 pounds light brown sugar
Salt to taste

1. Prepare jars according to directions.
2. Wash kumquats well and cover with water in a large pot. Bring to a rolling boil. Pour off water and rinse kumquats under cold, running water. Allow to cool. Slice and remove the insides. If they contain juice, remove seeds and membrane only. Transfer in batches to a food processor and chop. Return to the pot.
3. Chop the onions, peppers, and ginger to the small chunky stage. Remove and peel the cloves from the garlic head. Pulverize in a food processor. Add all to the pot with the kumquats.
4. Add remaining ingredients. Allow to stand 15 minutes. Bring to a slow boil, stirring so ingredients will not stick to the bottom. Reduce heat to simmer. Cook slowly, covered with the lid on a slant to release the steam. Stir often and continue cooking 1 hour.
5. Fill jars immediately according to directions.

KUMQUAT JAM FOR THE IRISH
Yield: 10 Pints

7 pounds kumquats
1 stick cinnamon
7 pounds granulated sugar
1 cup Irish whiskey
6-ounces liquid fruit pectin (2 pouches liquid Certo® or 2 packets SureJell®)

1. Pick fully ripe, firm, bright orange kumquats. Discard those which are light in color, withered or soft. Taste several to insure peak flavor.
2. Scrub kumquats well. Cover with water in a large soup pot. Bring to a boil, stirring several times. Drain and rinse with cold water.
3. With a small, sharp knife, slit each kumquat and remove the seeds and membrane, leaving just the skins.
4. Place the kumquats into the food processor in batches and pulverize. Return to the pot.
5. Add the cinnamon stick. Stir in 3 pounds of the sugar. Stir in the whiskey. If you do not have Irish whiskey, substitute Scotch whiskey. Allow mixture to stand several hours, stirring occasionally.
6. Bring to a slow boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Do not leave your post for even a short time, or sugar mixture will stick to the bottom of the pot and burn. Continue to stir until mixture begins to boil. It will be very thick.
7. Add remaining sugar and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add fruit pectin all at once. Continue stirring, while mixture bubbles, 1 minute. Remove from the heat immediately. Fill sterilized jars while mixture is very hot. Wipe around the tops with wet paper toweling to remove sticky fruit residue. Cap the jars tightly.
8. Set jars into a pot of boiling water for thirty seconds. Remove, dry and turn jars upside down for 30 minutes. Turn right side up.
9. Store at a cool room temperature. Refrigerate after opening.

KUMQUAT MUFFINS
Yield: 12 Regular Sized Muffins

1 cup whole kumquats
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white cornmeal
2 tablespoons baking powder
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 jumbo eggs, beaten
3/4 cup vegetable oil (not solid)
3/4 cup whole milk

1. Preheat oven to 350*F.
2. Bring kumquats to a full boil in water to cover. Boil 30 seconds. Rinse under cold, running water. Repeat procedure. Cut kumquats in half and remove seeds and membranes. Dice by hand or in the food processor. Set aside.
3. Spray or grease muffin tins. Or, line them with paper cups.
4. Sift flour, cornmeal, baking powder and sugar together. Beat eggs and stir in. Stir in oil and milk until just combined.
5. Stir in diced kumquats. Be careful not to over-mix or the result will be tough muffins with holes in the centers.
6. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

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Food Protection Manager Certification Examination Exp. 9/14/2015