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.
juice of 1 lemon
500g caster sugar
- Wash the cumquats, and discard any leaves and stems.
- Thinly slice the cumquats, removing any seeds and keeping them aside.
- Gather the seeds and wrap them in muslin or cloth. Tie with kitchen string.
- 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.
- Remove jam from heat and allow to cool slightly before carefully removing the seeds and squeezing out any liquid. Discard the seeds.
- 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.
- 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.