In the peak of citrus season, Houston gardeners are enjoying an overflow of fruit. I gave away a lot of my Meyer lemons earlier this year. And now I am the recipient—this week I got three pounds of small grapefruit and a pound of kumquats from a friend's backyard orchard. Kumquats are given to me every year, probably because I'm one of the few people who actually wants them.
Granted, kumquats (also spelled cumquats) are a little bizarre. The peel is sweet, and the inside is sour. Eating them out of hand is not terribly rewarding. They aren't actually a citrus fruit either, but rather some horticultural cousin. Louisiana's John Folse does a spectacular spin on duck a l'orange with kumquats—here's his recipe.
It was a tiny Mason jar full of pickled shrimp and slivers of pickled kumquats that made me pay attention to the little sweet tarts. Pickled kumquats are one of the coolest relishes I have ever tasted. Last year, I tried to lazy pickle them--I just threw them in a jar with some vinegar--that didn't really work.
This year, I am going to attempt to do it right. You have to slice each tiny fruit in two and pry out the seeds, then cook the half fruits and season them before adding vinegar and sugar and cooking some more, if you want to put up a proper jar of pickled kumquats.
I'll let you know how they turn out.