A traditional cumquat jam, with a recipe handed down over generations, that is packed full of flavour. This cumquat jam is made using only a few simple ingredients and can be used in so many ways. Add it to your morning breakfast items, swirl it through a cake or use it as the filling for jam drops. Find step-by-step photos and instructions below.
Being such a small fruit makes it tricky to prep them. But, like anything in life, if you put in the hard yards upfront, you will be ultimately rewarded. It’s important to start with fresh cumquats (or kumquats as they are known in the US).
Why this recipe works
This cumquat jam recipe works because of the attention to detail that is given in the preparation stages. Whilst it is labour intensive in the first instance, sticking at it will ensure you have a great jam at the end, and your effort will be rewarded. There are other recipes on the internet for “easy cumquat jam” and ones that leave the seeds in. They might be easier, but they don’t always set, and I can totally guarantee that it doesn’t taste exactly the same. The texture is different, and let’s be honest, who likes eating citrus seeds. This is a seedless cumquat jam for good reason. It’s just better
The cumquat pith and seeds are high in natural pectin meaning that you will get a good set on your job every time. This recipe does not recommend making it in large batches. So, while it will take some time to prepare your fruit, you can manage it with small amounts of the fruit to start with.
The jam, once made, will last quite a while in the fridge, meaning you can take advantage of the fruit when it is in season and enjoy it all year round.
There is no wastage. All parts of the fruit are used in this jam. And, there is less mess. Other recipes that use cheesecloth to hold the pith and seeds while boiling them in with the fruit and sugar, just ends up making a huge sticky mess. I know, I tried it and didn’t like it.
This is a jam with a strong flavour and unlike many commercial jams, is not overly sweet.
It’s versatile. Cumquat jam can be used as a breakfast item but is also great in cakes and biscuits. Cumquat jam makes for a perfect jam drop! I’ve even used it to make icecream.
Pro tip: Don’t be tempted to make larger batches of this. While items such as cakes can easily have their mixture doubled even tripled, jam does not react well to this at all. The more fruit, the more sugar, the more liquid is produced, the longer the cooking time, the greater the impact on the pectin and so it goes on. Cooking jam for too long also takes the flavour out of it. Less is more when it comes to making jam.
Recipe ingredient notes
- White sugar may be substituted for raw sugar. The measurement remains the same.
- While this recipe notes 500g of cumquats in the ingredient list, it really does not matter. Once you have processed the fruit and are ready to cook, you will measure the amount of fruit you have and use that as the basis for the amount of sugar. At this stage, it does not matter whether you cooked with 300g, 500g, or 800g. Just note my tip above about not doubling or tripling recipes.
- No additional pectin is required.
- The recipe calls for the juice of one lemon. There is no specific measurement for this, but I always like to try and use the largest and juiciest lemon I can find.
What is a cumquat?
Cumquats (Kumquats) are a small, bright orange citrus fruit. Depending on the variety, they can be oblong or spherical. The skin and the fruit are edible and have a distinctively sour taste to them. On first taste, they will have you screwing up your face for sure. They are extremely versatile, and whilst this recipe is for cumquat jam, or cumquat marmalade as it is also known, we use them for many different things. Ice cream relishes, chutneys, cakes, biscuits and syrups; cumquats are a wonderful addition to many foods.
How to make cumquat jam step by step
Step 1 | Cutting the fruit and separating the pith
This is the most important part of the process but the most time-consuming. It’s the part where you need to cut the fruit and separate the pith and seeds. The setting agent in this recipe comes from the pith and the seeds, making it critical to get as much of it as you can to allow the cumquat jam to set.
Because this fruit is small, it’s easiest to first cut the fruit in half, then in quarters. This way you can then cut the centre pith out without digging around in the fruit.
Tip: If you have a pair of sharp kitchen scissors, these will also make the job a little bit easier. You will still need to cut the cumquats into quarters, but then just cut across the top to get the pith out. It’s easy enough to do it in your hands and not have to put it on a cutting board. The end of the scissors can be used to pick the seed out easily.
Step 2 | Pith and seeds
Put pith and seeds into a bowl and put enough water in just to cover them. There is no exact measurement here. As long as you don’t flood the pith and seeds with water, it will be fine. Place plastic wrap over the top of the bowl and leave overnight. Do not put it in the fridge.
Step 3 | Process the fruit
Process the remainder of the fruit. Place the remaining fruit into a food processor and puree. This should be quite a thick consistency.
Step 4 | Soak the fruit
Pour the processed fruit into a separate bowl, and also cover with just enough water to coat the fruit. This should also be left overnight on a bench, not in the fridge.
Step 5 | Cook the jam
This step is all about cooking the jam.
Cook’s tip: Before starting the cooking process, the quantity of fruit needs to be measured to determine the amount of sugar to be included. Sugar is added on a basis of one cup of sugar to one cup of fruit. To be clear, the fruit is measured after it has been sitting overnight, not the original weight of the fruit in its natural form. Measure out the fruit into cups and note how many cups you have. You will need to match this with the sugar very soon.
Put a saucer in the freezer. This will be used to test the jam later.
Place pith and seeds into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook for 10 minutes. If there is not much water here (ie you’ve been restrained when covering the pith the day before, it is ok to add a little more here, just so your pith and seeds won’t burn).
Strain the liquid into the other bowl of prepared fruit. Use a teaspoon to push the thick liquid through the strainer. You will need all of this as this is what will make your jam set. I move the spoon around and around and push down on the seeds and pith to extract every bit of pectin I can. Add the juice of one lemon to the fruit.
Put all of this (not the seeds) into a saucepan. Heat the fruit for five minutes before adding 1 cup of sugar to every cup of fruit. (see cook’s tip above)
Bring to a boil and keep stirring, so it doesn’t stick to the saucepan. Rolling boil for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes put a drop onto the saucer that you placed into the freezer to see if it will set. Run your finger through the jam on the plate. It should be slightly sticky and set and maybe wrinkle up as your finger passes through. If it does this, it doesn’t require any further cooking. If it’s runny, keep cooking. Cooking time shouldn’t exceed 30 minutes.
Step 6 | Bottle the jam
Once the jam is ready, allow it to cool slightly before pouring it into sterilised bottles (see tips below). Refrigerate.
How to sterilise bottles
When preserving food, it is especially important to have sterilised the bottles before adding any food to them. Depending on how much time we have, we use one of the following methods.
Sterilising in the oven
Place the bottles – upside down is best – on baking paper inside a baking tray. Place into an oven at 110 degrees Celsius (230 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-15 minutes. The lids can be sterilised this way as well, provided there is no plastic inside them. Remove from the oven and use as soon as possible.
Sterilising on the stove
Place a tea towel on the bottom of a large pot and put the bottles on top. This prevents the bottles from moving around once the water starts to circulate. The lids may be added to the pot as well. Bring the water to a boil and leave for 10 minutes before removing them.
Note: Don’t ever put cold bottles into hot or boiling water as they are likely to crack. Warm them up first.
Ways to use cumquat jam (other than as jam)
The more cumquats I grew at home, the more inventive I had to be to use them. I love putting cumquat jam into cakes, swirling them through to create a tartness to an otherwise plain cake. Cumquat jam also pairs brilliantly with chocolate. My favourite is chocolate lava cakes/fondants. A basic jam drop, where I would usually use raspberry or apricot, is the perfect home for cumquat jam. It also pairs beautifully with cheese, providing a sharpness that sets it off.
When I have an abundance of cumquats, I also turn them into relishes, pickles and chutneys, along with syrups which is perfect for making ice cream.
How to store your jam
If you have sterilised your jars properly, then the jam should last for a very long time on the shelf. Because of the hot climate I live in, I choose to keep it in the fridge. But remember, jams are kept on the supermarkets’ shelves, so it will be perfectly fine. Once the lid has been popped, there is a life to your jam, but it’s still a long one.
Recipe FAQs and Expert Tips
Technically your could, but the secret of this cumquat jam recipe is that it uses the pith and seeds for pectin. Many other jams do not use the pith (because they may not have enough) and rely solely on lemon juice or manufactured pectin. Another citrus fruit could be tried using this recipe.
The water isn’t measured in ml or cups as it isn’t a key ingredient in the whole recipe. You just simply need enough water to cover the pith and seeds, and the fruit. See the photos above to see how much water is necessary.
If you were to start this recipe at the beginning of the day, you could make it at night. Give it at least 10-12 hours to do its magic.
The jam will still appear a bit runny whilst it is still hot. It will set into a jam consistency once it cools.
You can but the result will be different. We’ve tested doing it this way, but you end up with bits of seeds in the jam and you run the risk of the pectin not developing properly.
In this recipe, standard white sugar is used. We don’t recommend changing the amount of sugar required. White sugar can be substituted with raw sugar.
You can use any jars you like. Generally, we use jars that are around 385g (0.8 lb). 500g of processed fruit usually generates about 2.5 standard jam bottles.
If you have sterilised the jars properly, you should be able to store your jam in the pantry as you would any commercially bought jar of jam. Or, you can refrigerate if you have space.
I set up a production line when I prepare the fruit. I cut all the fruit I plan on using first into quarters and place them into a bowl. Then I put an empty bowl next in line for the pith and seeds and then place the food processor bowl at the end. With my scissors in one hand and the fruit in another, I pick the pieces up one by one, cut the pith and any seeds out of each quarter, put them into the middle bowl and then the remaining piece of fruit into the food processor bowl. Once you’ve done a few like this, you’ll get faster and faster. I can quarter, de-seed and remove the pith of one kilogram (2.2 pounds) of cumquats and have the fruit processed and all bowls covered with water in under an hour.
Step By Step Photos Above
Our recipes all have step-by-step photos, tips and FAQs listed above to allow you to make it as perfect as possible the first time.
How to make old fashioned cumquat jam
A traditional cumquat jam, with a recipe handed down over generations that is packed full of flavour. This cumquat jam is made using only a few simple ingredients and can be used in so many ways. Add it to your morning breakfast items, swirl it through a cake or use it as the filling for jam drops. Find step-by-step photos and instructions below.
- Fresh cumquats (about 500g or 1.1 lb)
- 1 cup sugar per cup of fruit
- Juice of one lemon
- Cut cumquats into quarters and cut the pith out and remove the seeds.
- Put pith and seeds into a bowl and cover with just enough water, cover with plastic wrap and leave overnight. Do not put it in the fridge.
- Place the remaining fruit into a food processor and puree. This should be quite a thick consistency.
- Pour the processed fruit into a separate bowl, and also cover with just enough water to coat the fruit. This should also be left overnight on a bench, not in the fridge.
- The next day, the jam can be cooked. Note: Before starting the cooking process, the quantity of fruit needs to be measured, to determine the amount of sugar to be included. Sugar is added on a basis of one cup of sugar to one cup of fruit. To be clear, the fruit is measured after it has been sitting overnight, not the original weight of the fruit in its natural form. Measure out the fruit into cups and make a note of how many cups you have. You will need to match this with the sugar very soon.
- Put a saucer in the freezer. This will be used to test the jam later.
- Place pith and seeds into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Cook for 10 minutes. Strain the liquid into the prepared fruit.
- Add the juice of one lemon to the fruit.
- Put the fruit (which now includes the juice from the pith, seeds and lemon) into a saucepan. Heat the fruit for five minutes before adding 1 cup of sugar for every cup of fruit. (see Cook's tip above)
- Bring to the boil and keep stirring so it doesn’t stick to the saucepan. Boil for about 20 to 30 minutes. After 20 minutes put a drop onto the cold saucer and see if it will set. If not, keep cooking and repeat the process. Cooking time shouldn't exceed 30 minutes.
- Once the jam is ready, allow to cool slightly before pouring into sterilised bottles.
- It's important to start with fresh cumquats. Having them fresh makes them easier to cut. Cooking jam with old fruit doesn't work as well either.
- Before starting the cooking process, the quantity of fruit needs to be measured, to determine the amount of sugar to be included. Sugar is added on a basis of one cup of sugar to one cup of fruit. To be clear, the fruit is measured after it has been sitting overnight, not the original weight of the fruit in its natural form.
- The setting agent in this recipe comes from the pith and the seeds. Because this fruit is small, it's easiest to first cut the fruit in half, then in quarters. This way you can then cut the centre pith out without digging around in the fruit. You can use a really sharp knife or kitchen scissors to do this.
- It might seem easier to throw all the seeds into the pot, but if you take the time to remove them when preparing the fruit, it will save time in the end and give a better result.
- Allow the pith and seeds to stand for at least 10 hours. I always do mine overnight. Don't rush this part.
- Make sure the bottles are sterilised before adding the jam.
This is an easy recipe. Just don't let the annoying cutting process stop you from doing it. It makes such beautiful jam that everyone who loves to cook should make it at least once.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 48 Serving Size: 25g
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 18Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 0mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 0gSugar: 5gProtein: 0g
This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix.
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45 thoughts on “How to make the best cumquat jam”
How do you get rid of the jam scum on top? Or do you leave it?
Hi, thanks for your comments. I can’t say that I’ve ever had an issue with the juice evaporating though and I have made this recipe many, many times. Still, this proves that everything is natural and doesn’t always work the same way. Good tip re the scissors. I’m pleased it worked for you. Re why your comment wasn’t posted, probably because we are in different time zones.
I just finished making kumquat jam following your recipe. It tastes so goooood ?. I found that when adding just enough water to cover the pith and seeds, when boiling, all the juice evaporated after a couple of minutes. I added a bit of water in however I did not collect much juice after 10mns and so I used a teaspoon to press on the cooked pith and seeds in the strainer. Other than that, everything went well. My tip to make the process of cutting the kumquat less tedious is to cut into quarter with a knife then use scissors to cut the piths and remove seeds ?. Thank you for this recipe. I will definitely make again ?
That is awesome Heather! Thanks so much for letting me know how you went. I’ve used pectin sugar before, though not with my cumquats. It would certainly make it much easier. I can see my cumquats starting to show on my tree now so it will be jam making time again soon.
Waked out to my backyard, looked at my cumquat in a big tub and thought, “hey, this year I’m using them”, hunted out your recipe and made it up. Mine isn’t a orange colour , more golden yellow, and it knocks your socks off with the taste. I cheated and did not use the seeds in the way you showed, but used jam sugar which has pectin in it, and which is made by CSR sugar (Australia). I use it for blood orange marmalade as nowadays I just can’t get the pectin measure correct in things.
I liked it so much I went and picked more off the bush and will have to give it much more respect than I have done before!
Hi Kathy, yes I couldn’t agree with you more on both points. It is soooo tedious to prepare but it’s definitely worth it! Thanks so much for giving our recipe a go.
Love love love this jam. Preparation is tedious but definitely worth the effort. So delicious. Best I have ever tasted.
HI Krisha, thanks for your message. Cumquat absolutely has pith. It’s easiest to remove it if you cut into quarters as I have shown (ie not into wagon wheels). By cutting into quarters you can see the pith running along the edge of the quarter (on the inside). This is also where you find the seeds. You need to slice a thin piece of the edge of the quartered fruit to get the pith. You can see the pith and seeds in the photos I have in the recipe. You are correct, the fruit is then being processed with the skin on but at this stage, the pith has been removed. If you look at the early photos before the pith has been removed you will see white in the centre. This is not evident on the fruit in the processer as it has been removed in the previous step.
Recipe sounds great. But I am a bit confused as cumquat has no pith. And the pictures suggest that the fruit is being blitzed with the skin on. So where is the pith that has to be cut out and soaked????
Hi Veena, you will have so much wonderful fruit now! Our tree has not stopped bearing for about 15 years. Totally get the star anise and cinnamon. I actually have a downloadable ebook that you can buy at the bottom of the recipe that has 10 cumquat recipes in it. There’s actually several recipes that include these ingredients! They work perfectly with cumquat.