The huge 15-foot kumquat tree (technically it’s a shrub) is laden with fruits, hundreds in various stages, from ripe, almost ripe to green and even a few flowers.
“Such a funny fruit,” I think to myself almost every time I pass by, with the skin being the sweet part and the inside, well, not so yummy unless your palate is a fan of varying degrees of tartness.
A friend reminded me of the line from the allegorical musical The Fantasticks (the world’s longest running play that ran Off-Broadway with 17,162 performances from 1960-2002 as well as all over the country and around the world), “You’re…standing…in…my…KUMQUATS!” Huh? It’s funny because it doesn’t make any sense. Could it be author Tom Jones had the same thoughts as me?
Native to eastern Asia, this mini fruit belongs to the same family as oranges, lemons and limes. It came to London from China in 1846 and was introduced in the U.S. from Japan in 1885. The four cultivars of note are: Meiwa, Nagami, Marumi and Fukushu.
In Tucson, the Nagami version thrives. They’re plentiful in established midtown neighborhoods, especially around the University of Arizona campus. According to the Campus Arboretum map, there’s one in front of the Arizona-Sonora dorm and another along Campbell Avenue near the Health Sciences complex across from Mabel Street.
Although I’ve never made jam or marmalade from them, it’s what I’m most familiar with, other than just eating them straight from the branch. How about you?
On July 22, give us an hour and we’ll give you the world. OK, we’ll give you lunch and Asian style recipes. Certified Executive Chef Barry Infuso will demonstrate Artic char, baby bok choy, rice and Chinese almond cookies.
How about learning about craft beers and tasting five different ones? On July 27, you can, as well as have the unique opportunity to learn from Borderlands Brewing Co.’s Head Brewer, Ayla Kapahi.
Do you love the Wildcats as much as I do? On July 28, cook along with football legends Ricky and LaMonte Hunley when food – baked salmon, bok choy salad, sautéed spinach and key lime pie are on the menu – and football is the conversation. They wreaked havoc on the football field, will they in the kitchen?
On August 2, BATA Pastry Chef Kayla Draper takes the mystery out of making French macarons. You’ll create Funfetti shells filled with silky vanilla buttercream and deep red shells filled with sumptuous chocolate ganache and fresh strawberries.
Maynards Executive Chef Brian Smith returns to the kitchen for the August 24 Flavors of Tucson City of Gastronomy series.
News & Notes
The 14th Annual Tucson Iron Chef is back! On July 30, at Casino Del Sol, watch reigning champ Chef Wendy Gauthier of Chef Chic battle against Dante’s Fire Chef Kenneth Foy for the best use of the secret ingredient. Here’s the ticket link.
The 2nd Friday Food Truck and Vendor Sale takes place Friday at 7777 E. Speedway Blvd.
The Gastronomic Union of Tucson (GUT) dinners have returned! First up, July 17 with GUT Goes to the Movies! Inspired by Hollywood blockbusters, cult-classics, indie hits and foreign films including “Julie & Julia,” “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes,” “Tampopo,” “Big Night” and “Ratatouille,” the dinner features a five-course wine-paired menu with a welcome cocktail and hors d’oeuvres by some of Tucson’s best chefs. Taking place at the Mountain Oyster Club, 6400 E. El Dorado Circle, the cost is $90 per person, plus tax and gratuity. Here’s the reservation link.
Wishing you joy in the kitchen,
Yield: 4 cups
Note: Eat straight from the jar, add to salads or serve with pork or chicken or a topping for ice cream.
4 cups (1 – 1 ½ lbs.) kumquats
1 cup water
2 cups granulated sugar
1. Roughly chop kumquats. Discard any seeds that are easy to get to, but since they’re edible don’t fret if some get chopped up or stay in the fruit. Leave any small ones whole.
2. Combine water in sugar in a saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 4 minutes. Add kumquats and simmer 10 minutes.
3. Drain kumquats through a sieve set over a bowl. Return syrup to the pan and simmer 5 minutes to reduce, then combine with fruit. Serve or jar and refrigerate up to 2 weeks.