From cocktails to charcuterie, the tiny kumquat was born for this moment.

By Stacey Ballis
February 22, 2021

If you love pickles like I do, you know how many ways there are to enjoy that sweet-sour crunch on a sandwich, on a charcuterie board, or floating in a cocktail. Pair up the deliciousness of a pickle with winter's citrus season, and you've got a recipe for a surprisingly easy, delicious winter project. The star of the show? The kumquat!

Meet the kumquat

One of my favorite citrus fruits to play with is the tiny kumquat. This unusual oval fruit has sweet, edible rind surrounding tart flesh with edible seeds, and it is a great addition to all sorts of cooking. The rind can be chopped fine to add to salad dressings, they can be sliced to top salads, and you can halve them to add citrus punch to stews and braises. But my favorite new thing to do with them is pickle them.

Why pickled kumquats are so great

Pickled kumquats are a sweet and sour miracle fruit. They can garnish a cocktail with panache, are an amazing treat to add to your charcuterie boards and can perk up any roasted meat in an instant. Best part? They are incredibly easy to make.

Credit: Getty / hawk111

How to pickle kumquats

To start, decide if you want to keep your kumquats whole or halved. I usually decide based on two factors—how large they are and if I want to eat the seeds. The seeds are edible, but not necessarily delicious, so I usually choose to halve the small fruits lengthwise and remove them with the tip of a paring knife. But they do look lovely whole, and the recipe works either way. If you don't mind the seeds and want to keep the fruits whole, just remove a small bit of the stem end to allow the pickling to penetrate.

I do these in small batches, because I like them a little fresher and since I do not can them, I don't want to take up a lot of room in my fridge, but you can multiply up as needed. This makes about one pint jar.

Here's how to do it:

1. Take your prepped kumquats and cover them by an inch with cold water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.

2. Boil for about 30 seconds, then turn off the heat, cover, let sit for 6 minutes, then drain (the water is actually refreshing, so save and chill it for drinking later in the day). Set the kumquats aside.

3. To the same saucepan, for every half-pound of kumquats, add the following:

  • ½ cup vinegar (white, white wine, or apple cider)
  • ½ cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • Any whole spices you love (anise, cardamom pods, allspice berries, cinnamon sticks, mustard seeds, black peppercorns, grains of paradise, a chunk of fresh ginger, and if you love a pickled onion flavor add some thin sliced white onion or shallot)

4. Bring the brine to the boil to dissolve the sugar, then return the kumquats and boil in the brine for 1-2 minutes.

5. Pour the mix into a glass jar or container with enough brine to cover, and pop on the lid.

6. Let cool to room temperature, then store in the fridge for up to 6 weeks! (If you like canning, and want to make a larger batch for gifting, feel free to process these for 10 minutes in a water bath to preserve.)