Candied Vanilla-Poached Kumquats Recipe

Friday, February 17, 2012


Next to the temperate weather, one of the nicest things about living in Florida is the abundance of citrus fruits we have here.  Several years ago, I planted a kumquat tree in my front yard.  It’s a spindly, sad-looking, little thing.  But, every year around this time, it give me masses and masses of lovely, plump kumquats.

Kumquats are an eclectic little fruit. While they look like miniature oranges, they’re not at all like the Valencia and Temple oranges that they share my yard space with.  For one thing,  a kumquat’s edible rind is thin, soft and sweet, while its flesh is bitter.  Most people eat the rind and toss the rest.  For another thing, they don’t have much juice in them.  You can usually squeeze out a scant teaspoon or so to add to a cocktail, but that’s pretty much it.  One thing they do have in common though, is that they’re both great for candying.


A few weeks ago, after picking a large basket full of fruit, I decided to candy them.  I love doing this because candied kumquats keep forever in the fridge.  Plus, you can use them in so many different kinds of recipes, both savory and sweet.   By themselves, kumquats have a bit of a bite, so I like to toss a split vanilla bean in with them as they poach.  The vanilla really mellows the kumquats and adds a lovely, subtle flavor.


There isn’t a whole lot of finesse involved in candying kumquats.  You basically just simmer them in water and sugar until they start to fall apart.  By that time, the fruit will have become soft and squidgy, and poaching liquid will be a thick, luscious syrup.

Candied kumquats can be baked into cakes or muffins, used as a topping for tarts, custards or ice cream, and even cooked into savory dishes like chicken or pork.  They also make a great accompaniment to various cheeses. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.   However, when I do use them in cooking or baking, I discard the flesh and seeds and just use the skins.   Aside from being bitter, the insides are just plain mushy and unattractive.   The syrup can also be used as a flavoring in baked goods, frozen treats and all sorts of beverages.  Try swirling some into a glass filled with ice cold seltzer water for a nice, refreshing drink.


If you’re not lucky enough to have a kumquat tree growing in your yard, don’t fret.  You can almost always find fresh kumquats this time of year at your friendly neighborhood supermarket.  They probably won’t be as pretty as mine, but they’ll still taste great!  Winking smile




12 responses to Candied Vanilla-Poached Kumquats Recipe

  1. On February 17, 2012 at 1:30pm, Liz said...

    Hi Susan,
    I also have a kumquat tree in my yard & for years have just let them fall to the ground & rot :( I recently found a recipe for Kumquat 5 Spice Marmalade & plan to do that w/ my kumquats this year…but these look so tempting I may have to do both.

  2. On February 17, 2012 at 1:32pm, Rosa said...

    Oh, divine! I love candied kumquats.



  3. On February 17, 2012 at 3:50pm, Phyllis Kirigin said...

    Wow! That candied kumquat photo I could pluck right off the screen! I used basically the same recipe to make candied grapefruit rind. Also heavenly. Can be put to the same uses. It’s amazing what a sweet citrusy pop it lends to a lamb tagine or sweet potato bread.

  4. On February 19, 2012 at 5:06am, Rachel Cotterill said...

    Almost makes me wish I lived somewhere warm enough to grow kumquats! :)

  5. On February 24, 2012 at 11:51pm, brilynn said...

    Kumquats are so pretty! Like little gems!

  6. On February 26, 2012 at 7:08pm, Ellen said...

    I am a bit confused. You said “However, when I do use them in cooking or baking, I discard the flesh and seeds and just use the skins. Aside from being bitter, the insides are just plain mushy and unattractive.”

    So, does this mean the insides are still bitter even after they are candied using this recipe? If so, do you cut them in half & scoop out the insides after they are candied if you want to use them in baking? If you just want to eat them, presumably whole, after they have been candied, won’t the insides be bitter this way also?


  7. On February 26, 2012 at 7:30pm, michelle said...

    I have thissame question– as above person — about this bitter insides- how you handle them ??

  8. On March 19, 2012 at 6:42am, Non woven bag making machine said...

    Comfortably, the post is really the sweetest on this precious blog.

  9. On July 11, 2013 at 2:05am, Carolyn McCleskey said...

    July 10,2013
    My 20 year old kumquat tree outdid itself this year. Must have 1000 on it, and they are the biggest and
    sweetest ever ! Thanks for your inspiration to candy them. After scooping out the pulp, this will be a batch
    of only half rinds this time, and candied whole ones come next. The vanilla pod you suggested is a great idea.

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  11. On March 11, 2015 at 5:10am, Karen said...

    Great recipe! I stumbled upon your blog today as I was looking for some ways to use up the 5kgs (around 11lbs) of kumquats I harvested from my tree. I had already made kumquat marmalade and brandied Kumquats, so this was perfect. The Kumquats are so pretty in their syrup, I can’t wait to use them in some cocktails and desserts :-)

  12. On January 28, 2016 at 11:00pm, Tona said...

    I made marmalade w the skins and juiced the insides in a juicer which came out as a smooth pulp. I froze the pulp (no sugar or anything added) into popsicles. Delicious nutritious! I couldn’t get my daughter to stop eating them. A great, healthy snack!

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Hello and welcome to SGCC! I’m Susan, a professional writer, food columnist, recipe developer, wife, mother, daughter and sister, who used to be a lawyer in a previous life. My love of food comes from a long line of wonderful and creative Italian home cooks who didn’t always have a lot, but knew how to make a lot out of what they had. I hope that you enjoy yourself while you’re here, and visit often! read more >>

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