Kumquats, large olive size citrus fruits, appear in my local supermarket just before Christmas. They are not as easy to track down in the UK, but then the converse is true of Seville oranges – Italians aren’t remotely interested in them. They are, in fact, similar: inedible when raw, contain far too many pips to make them easy to prepare, but on the plus side they both make zippy ice creams – and chutneys.
I make Kumquat chutney most years to go with the Boxing Day cold goose or ham. I never have the time to follow a recipe: fruit, spices, sugar and vinegar are bunged into a saucepan and somehow chutney always turns out delicious. If the chutney is going to be served up the day of making it, I stir in fresh cranberries at the end instead of dried cherries. The latter give the chutney are darker look, so omit them if you fancy a clear orange colour.
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 onion, sliced
3 garlic cloves, grated
3cm knob of fresh ginger, grated
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, crushed
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
150ml cider vinegar
100g golden caster sugar
50g dried cherries (optional)
20g fresh coriander to serve
Heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium heat and fry the onion for 5 minutes before adding the garlic and ginger. Sauté this onion mixture for another 2 minutes and then stir in the coriander, cayenne, bay leaf and thyme. Now add the kumquats, vinegar and sugar. Let this simmer for 20 minutes or so, until the fruit have collapsed.
Just before serving, stir through some chopped coriander.
This chutney makes a good present. Heat a Kilner jar in the oven; ladle in the hot chutney, before firmly screwing down the top (using mittens); wipe down and let it cool before attempting pretty labels and ribbons.