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There's a lot to do with kumquats

Recipe: Simple, versatile kumquat sauce makes most of sweet-sour flavor

Easy kumquat sauce brightens up a dish of yogurt. The sauce also is good on chicken or pork chops. (Photo: Debbie Arrington)

Easy kumquat sauce brightens up a dish of yogurt. The sauce also is good on chicken or pork chops. (Photo: Debbie Arrington) Debbie Arrington

Kumquats can be addictive. These little gems are made to eat in one bite, the sweet skin complementing the sour juice inside.

A symbol of good luck and prosperity, kumquats are a common gift during Chinese New Year. They also grow very well in Sacramento, making them a popular addition to backyard gardens. Varieties with rounder fruit tend to have higher cold tolerance.

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Kumquats grow well in Sacramento. This tree
is at the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center.
(Photo: Kathy Morrison)

Compact like their fruit, kumquat trees can produce abundant mini-citrus crops to brighten winter days.  Like other citrus, kumquats can be as attractive as they are fruitful, a natural for edible ornamental landscapes. But unlike Meyer lemons or Washington navels, kumquats can be a puzzle.

What do you do with them? (Besides pop them in your mouth and spit out the seeds.) Embrace their yin-yang nature and make the most of their sweet-sour flavor.

Like a thin marmalade, this simple kumquat sauce can serve as both sweet and savory. With this sauce’s versatility, there’s a lot to do with kumquats.

Atop dessert, it contrasts with the richness of cheesecake, ice cream or pound cake. Add a couple of tablespoons to a smoothie for a jolt of kumquat flavor.

As a glaze on chicken, this sauce adds a caramelized citrus crust. At the table, it complements pork roast or chops. On Greek yogurt, it was simply delicious.

In a sealed jar, this sauce will keep at least a week in the refrigerator; up to a year in the freezer.

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Slice the kumquats and remove the seeds.
(Photos: Debbie Arrington)

Simple kumquat sauce
Makes 2 to 4 servings

Ingredients:

1 cup kumquats, sliced and seeded (about 16 whole)
½ cup sugar
¼ cup water
¼ cup orange liqueur or white wine

Instructions:

Gently wash kumquats, removing any stem. Slice crosswise, discarding seeds.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar, water and liqueur or wine. Stir until sugar dissolves. Add kumquats.

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Bring the ingredients to a boil,
then reduce heat and simmer.

Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring often, until kumquats are tender and sauce reduces into a light syrup, about 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and let cool. Serve warm or cold as dessert topping, over yogurt or as sauce for chicken or pork.

Note: This sauce will keep in the refrigerator at least one week.

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Garden Checklist for week of May 19

Temperatures will be a bit higher than normal in the afternoons this week. Take care of chores early in the day – then enjoy the afternoon. It’s time to smell the roses.

* Plant, plant, plant! It’s prime planting season in the Sacramento area. If you haven’t already, it’s time to set out those tomato transplants along with peppers and eggplants. Pinch off any flowers on new transplants to make them concentrate on establishing roots instead of setting premature fruit.

* Direct-seed melons, cucumbers, summer squash, corn, radishes, pumpkins and annual herbs such as basil.

* Harvest cabbage, lettuce, peas and green onions.

* In the flower garden, direct-seed sunflowers, cosmos, salvia, zinnias, marigolds, celosia and asters.

* Plant dahlia tubers. Other perennials to set out include verbena, coreopsis, coneflower and astilbe.

* Transplant petunias, marigolds and perennial flowers such as astilbe, columbine, coneflowers, coreopsis, dahlias, rudbeckia and verbena.

* Keep an eye out for slugs, snails, earwigs and aphids that want to dine on tender new growth.

* Feed summer bloomers with a balanced fertilizer.

* For continued bloom, cut off spent flowers on roses as well as other flowering plants.

* Don’t forget to water. Seedlings need moisture. Deep watering will help build strong roots and healthy plants.

* Add mulch to the garden to help keep that precious water from evaporating. Mulch also cuts down on weeds. But don’t let it mound around the stems or trunks of trees or shrubs. Leave about a 6-inch to 1-foot circle to avoid crown rot or other problems.

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