I fell in love with quinotos last Christmas in Cordoba. Direct from the tree, they were tangy, sour and sweet in all the best ways. I picked up a kilo recently but I suppose they're out of season so they were a bit rough on the palate. So I decided to add a crapload of sugar to make them candied and syrupy.
For such a simple recipe, I found a variety of cooking techniques. All Argentine recipes required you to let the quinotos sit in salted water for 3 days or boil them with salt, then rinse. None of the recipes written in English mentioned this, but I figured that since I'm here I better not skip the step. Of course, I couldn't be bothered to wait 3 days.
I really wanted to candy them whole (because they're amazing that way) but these had too many too large seeds, so I had to halve the quinotos to remove the seeds (which was a huge pain and made me regret attempting such a sizeable batch). Note that if you do cook them whole, you'll need to poke small holes in them first.
The cooking times also varied widely between 10 minutes and 2 hours. I settled on 20 minutes, but could have removed the quinotos and continued cooking the syrup to make it thicker. Probably a good idea.
Candied Kumquats in Vanilla Syrup
Inspired by Cooking Light
- 750 grams kumquats, stems removed and washed
- Big pinch rock salt
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1/2 vanilla bean (or a super small one like the only ones I can find now), scraped
- 3 or 4 whole cloves
- Pinch cinnamon
Boil kumquats in salted water for 8 minutes. Drain, immerse in a bowl of water and scrub lightly with your hands to remove salt. Drain again and rinse well.
Combine sugar and water in a pot and bring to a boil. Once sugar has dissolved, add kumquats, vanilla seeds, cloves and cinnamon. Drop heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, or until tender and translucent. If thicker syrup is desired, remove the fruit but leave the syrup and continue to boil for another 10-15 minutes, or until it reaches desired consistency. Transfer quinotos and syrup to a large jar (or several small jars) and seal. If you know how to jar, you can let these sit for 2 weeks in the refrigerator to let the flavors develop. I refrigerated mine for only two days before serving.
Candied kumquats are delicious served over ice cream or pavlova (maybe make it pistachio).