When I was little, my grandmother Jean used to make cumquat jam. She had a few cumquat trees in the backyard of her property in Mount Eliza, which when I was little I thought were mini oranges. It wasn’t until I was older that I could fully appreciate her jam, which is a nice alternative to regular marmalade.

When I went to the Queen Victoria Market recently, I spied a single stall selling the ‘mini oranges’ from my childhood, and felt compelled to make my grandmother’s jam. I hadn’t tasted it for many years as she passed away, but the moment I tasted it, I was instantly transported back to my childhood.

My grandmother used to leave the pips in her jam as they help to thicken it, but I always used to hate picking them out. So instead, I wrapped the seeds in muslin and removed them after cooking. I’m not sure if she’d approve, but it’s my addition to a great family recipe.

600g cumquats
500ml water
juice of 1 lemon
500g caster sugar

  1. Wash the cumquats, and discard any leaves and stems.
  2. Thinly slice the cumquats, removing any seeds and keeping them aside.
  3. Gather the seeds and wrap them in muslin or cloth. Tie with kitchen string.
  4. In a large saucepan, place the cumquats, seeds, water and lemon juice. Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Remove jam from heat and allow to cool slightly before carefully removing the seeds and squeezing out any liquid. Discard the seeds.
  6. Return jam to the heat, stir in sugar, and bring back to a simmer. Simmer for another 15-20 minutes until sugar has dissolved and the jam is thick and syrupy. To test if jam is ready, spoon a teaspoon of the jam onto a plate and place in the freezer for 30 seconds. It is ready if after that time it has thickened up, and you can trace a line through it with your finger. If it doesn’t, continue cooking for another 5-10 minutes, repeating this process until it is thick.
  7. While still warm, transfer jam into sterilised* jars. Allow to cool before eating.

*To sterilise jars, place jars and lids in boiling water for at least 3 minutes. Alternatively, place in a hot oven (over 100 degrees) for at least 3 minutes.

Makes 3 x 370g jars. Jam will keep for 12 months if the jars are sterilised correctly.