Kumquat Jam with Vanilla (4 Ingredients, No Pectin)

Kumquats are sprouting up everywhere and if you’re wondering what you can do with these bite-sized citrus fruits, look no further. I make my Kumquat Jam with just four ingredients and it’s the most delicious gourmet jam you’ll taste. Its bittersweet flavor works well in both sweet and savory dishes.

Kumquat Jam with Mexican Vanilla

Kumquats are one of those fruits that will forever remind me of my Uncle Nash. He used to send me pounds and pounds of homegrown kumquats from his tree in California and said he couldn’t keep up with it once it was giving. If you’re one of those fortunate individuals who has a kumquat tree (or access to one) and are asking yourself, “what can I do with lots of kumquats?,” keep reading!

WHAT ARE KUMQUATS?

Kumquats are small, oval-shaped citrus fruits with thin, edible skins and tart flesh. They’re about the size of a large grape and are native to China. What makes kumquats unique is that the entire fruit is edible. Their peel is sweet, while the flesh is sour so it’s best to eat them whole in order to get the bittersweet balance in one bite.

kumquat jam

WHAT IS KUMQUAT JAM?

Kumquat jam is a sweet spread made from fresh kumquat fruit, typically cooked with sugar and sometimes flavored with spices or other citrus fruits. The process involves simmering the fruit until it breaks down, creating a thick, flavorful preserve that can be enjoyed on toast, pastries, or paired with cheeses. The first time I made jam was back in 2017 and now try to make it whenever kumquats are in season.

Kumquat Jam with Mexican Vanilla

WHAT DOES KUMQUAT JAM TASTE LIKE?

Kumquat jam has a unique flavor that is both sweet from the fruit’s edible peel, and tangy, from the flesh. The flavor reminds me of a citrusy marmalade, with a hint of bitterness.

Since I love the combination of citrus and vanilla, I added Mexican vanilla beans to the mix and my first batch of kumquat jam turned out even more delicious than I could have ever imagined. It tastes like an orange creamsicle or 50/50 bar (a popsicle that I loved as a child that has vanilla ice cream in the center, coated by an orange popsicle layer) – divine, simply divine. If you’re lucky enough to have access to fresh kumquats, it’s time to get your jam on!

HEALTH BENEFITS OF KUMQUATS

I love snacking on kumquats right off the tree, and if you’ve ever found yourself asking, “Are kumquats healthy?,” here are a few notable health benefits of these small citrus fruits:

  • Vitamin C: Kumquats are a potent source of vitamin C, essential for immune function, skin health, and wound healing.
  • Fiber: They contain dietary fiber, promoting digestive health, regulating blood sugar levels, and aiding in weight management.
  • Antioxidants: Kumquats are packed with antioxidants like flavonoids and carotenoids, which are believed to help neutralize harmful free radicals and reduce inflammation.
  • Minerals: They provide minerals like potassium, calcium, and magnesium, contributing to overall health and proper functioning of the body’s systems.
  • Low in calories: With only around 13 calories per fruit, kumquats offer a low-calorie option for those watching their calorie intake.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN: JAM, JELLY, PRESERVES, CONFIT, AND MARMALADE?

I always find myself asking this very questions, and thought it was important to share my findings. The main differences between jam, jelly, preserves, confit, and marmalade lie in their ingredients, texture, and cooking process:

  • Jam is made by cooking crushed or chopped fruits with sugar until the mixture thickens. It retains fruit pulp or small fruit pieces, resulting in a spread with a thick and textured consistency.
  • Jelly is made from fruit juice that is strained to remove all solids, resulting in a clear, smooth spreadable gel-like texture. It typically contains no fruit pulp or pieces.
  • Preserves: Similar to jam, preserves contain chunks or whole pieces of fruit, along with fruit pulp, cooked with sugar. Preserves have a thicker consistency compared to jam, with visible fruit pieces.
  • Confit refers to a cooking method where food, such as fruits like kumquats or vegetables, is cooked slowly in sugar syrup until it becomes tender and infused with flavor. It can also involve cooking meat in its own fat. Confit results in a preserved product that is often stored in the cooking syrup.
  • Marmalade is a type of preserve made specifically from citrus fruits, most commonly oranges. It includes the peel of the fruit, which is often thinly sliced or chopped and cooked with the fruit juice and sugar, resulting in a spread with a bittersweet flavor and a unique texture from the citrus peel. While orange is the most common flavor, marmalade can also be made with other citrus fruits. So I guess that by this definition, my jam could also be considered a kumquat marmalade.
Kumquat Jam with Mexican Vanilla

WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS RECIPE

  • Gourmet hostess gift: Homemade jams always make lovely hostess gifts, and this isn’t one you’ll find at the grocery store. The addition of a Mexican vanilla bean makes it extra delicious and gourmet.
  • Versatile: Kumquat jam is perfect to spread onto toast, pastries, or scones. I also like to use it to make cakes, empanadas, or thumbprint cookies. It’s also great on grilled pork or poultry.
  • Easy to make: With only a handful of ingredients and no pectin, you can make this kumquat jam recipe in just about 45 minutes total!
  • Preserve the season: When kumquats are in season, the trees give abundantly, so this is a great way to preserve this lovely seasonal fruit to enjoy throughout the year.

INGREDIENTS FOR KUMQUAT JAM

  • Fresh kumquats: If you don’t have a tree or a neighbor who has one, you should be able to find kumquats at your local farmers’ market, Asian grocery store, or at Wholefoods when they’re in season.
  • Vanilla: You can use a whole vanilla bean (I prefer Mexican vanilla beans, but any will work), or a tablespoon of good quality vanilla extract.
  • Sugar: cane sugar is my sweetener of choice, and you can always adjust the amount used in this recipe.
  • Lemon: Both the zest and juice add depth and work as a natural preservative for this jam.
  • Water: A little goes a long way, and the fruits release their own liquids so you’ll want to cook down the mixture until it reaches a jam-like consistency.
Kumquat Jam with Mexican Vanilla

RECOMMENDED FOR THIS RECIPE

MEXICAN VANILLA BEANS

mexican vanilla

HOW TO MAKE KUMQUAT JAM

1. PREPARE JAM INGREDIENTS

  • Cut each fruit in half, crosswise (this means the opposite of lengthwise).
  • Remove the seeds by squeezing the juice of each fruit half by hand, into a mesh strainer placed over a larger bowl. The strainer will catch the seeds while the larger bowl underneath will catch the juice. This is a tedious process, but is necessary to remove as many of the seeds as possible (nobody likes these large seeds in their jam!).
  • Zest and juice the lemon. 
  • Remove the “caviar” (seeds) from the vanilla bean.
Kumquat Jam with Mexican Vanilla
Kumquat Jam with Mexican Vanilla

2. SLICE FRUIT

  • Slice kumquats. Alternatively, you can simply cut them into fourths. It’s a matter of preference. I find that the sliced kumquats allow the jam to cook quickly. It also spreads nicely onto toast.
Kumquat Jam with Mexican Vanilla

3. COOK KUMQUAT JAM

  • Bring kumquats, kumquat juice, vanilla bean seeds or extract, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and water to a boil in a small, heavy-bottom pan over medium heat.
  • Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently with a wooden or rubber spatula, to avoid burning. Jam should be boiling and bubbling while you stir. 
  • Reduce heat to lowest setting and simmer for an additional 10 to 15 minutes until the liquid reduces and the jam thickens. You should be able to see the bottom of the saucepan when you stir the jam with a spatula.
  • PRO TIP: During this process, you’ll want to stir constantly to avoid burning the jam. Also, be sure to remove any additional kumquat seeds that may float to the top during the cooking process.
Kumquat Jam with Mexican Vanilla
Kumquat Jam with Mexican Vanilla

4. JAR YOUR JAM

  • Pour hot jam into a sterile jars with lids. Remove air bubbles on the sides of the jar by using a knife or chop stick. 
  • Jam should last for at least 4 weeks covered and refrigerated.
Kumquat Jam with Mexican Vanilla

HOW TO USE KUMQUAT JAM

Here are a few of my favorite ways to enjoy this jam:

  • On toast with butter or biscuits
  • On a bagel with cream cheese, pancakes, or crackers
  • On manchego cheese topped with crushed pistachios and a drizzle of agave syrup
  • In sweet empanadas, cakes, frosting, and smoothie recipes
  • Mixed into cottage cheese, yogurt, or ice cream
  • As a sweet glaze for grilled meats such as chicken or pork
  • In salad dressing mixed with olive oil, vinegar, and seasonings for salads and grain bowls

TIPS, TRICKS, AND SUBSTITUTIONS

  • Substitute calamansi citrus fruits (also known as the Philippine lime) for kumquats in this recipe. Both fruits contain a tart flesh and sweet, edible peel.
  • Add the spent vanilla bean to a jar of sugar to make vanilla sugar. 
  • You can also use vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract instead of a vanilla bean in this recipe.
  • If you are making this delicious jam in large batches to preserve at home, you will need to follow the water canning process. Keep in mind that it will also take longer to cook down and thicken.
Kumquat Jam with Mexican Vanilla

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

WHEN ARE KUMQUATS IN SEASON IN THE US?

In the United States, kumquats are typically in season from late fall to early spring, roughly from November to March. However, specific timing may vary slightly depending on the region and local climate conditions. It’s always a good idea to check with local farmers’ markets or grocers for the most accurate information on kumquat availability in your area.

WHERE DO KUMQUATS GROW IN THE US?

Kumquats thrive in regions of the United States with warm, subtropical climates. They grow particularly well in states such as Florida, California, and Texas, where mild winters and hot summers create optimal conditions for citrus cultivation.

Outside of the US, kumquats also grow in the following countries: China, Japan, India, Spain, Italy, Brazil, Australia, Israel, Morocco, and South Africa. These countries have suitable climates for cultivating kumquats, and the fruit is often grown for both domestic consumption and export markets.

HOW DO YOU EAT KUMQUATS?

I like to eat kumquats whole, with the peel. Simply rinse them and enjoy them raw, or incorporate them into recipes for jams (like this one!), desserts, or savory dishes.

WHY IS MY KUMQUAT JAM BITTER?

I have found that kumquat seeds can make your jam bitter, so removing all of them (or as many as you can) is essential. I do this by first cutting my kumquats in half and squeezing the juice and seeds through a fine mesh strainer. Then if any surface during the cooking process, be sure to scoop those out as well.

LOOKING FOR MORE INSPIRATION?

Kumquat Jam with Mexican Vanilla

Kumquat Jam with Vanilla (4 Ingredients, No Pectin)

by Lola Dweck
This easy kumquat jam recipe is made with just 4 ingredients and its unique bittersweet flavor is delicious in both sweet and savory dishes.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 24
Calories 47 kcal

Equipment

  • Cutting Board
  • Knife
  • Blender
  • Mesh Strainer
  • Heavy-bottom pot or small dutch oven
  • Wooden or rubber spatula
  • Bowls
  • Clean jars with lids

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pound kumquats seeds removed and sliced
  • 1 vanilla bean or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 lemon zest and juice
  • 1 cup water

Instructions
 

  • Prepare ingredients for jam. Cut each fruit in half, crosswise (this means the opposite of lengthwise). Remove the seeds by squeezing the juice of each fruit half by hand, into a mesh strainer placed over a larger bowl. The strainer will catch the seeds while the larger bowl underneath will catch the juice. This is a tedious process, but is necessary to remove as many of the seeds as possible (nobody likes these large seeds in their jam and it can make it bitter!).
    Zest and juice the lemon.
    Remove the “caviar” (seeds) from the vanilla bean.
  • Slice kumquats. Alternatively, you can simply cut them into fourths. It’s a matter of preference. I find that slicing them into small circles allows the jam to cook quickly. It also spreads nicely onto toast.
  • Cook kumquat jam. Bring kumquats, kumquat juice, vanilla bean seeds or extract, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and water to a boil in a small, heavy-bottom pan over medium heat. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently with a wooden or rubber spatula, to avoid burning. Jam should be boiling and bubbling while you stir.
    Reduce heat to lowest setting and simmer for an additional 10 to 15 minutes until the liquid reduces and the jam thickens. You should be able to see the bottom of the saucepan when you stir the jam with a spatula.
    PRO TIP: During this process, you’ll want to stir constantly to avoid burning the jam. Also, be sure to remove any additional kumquat seeds that may float to the top during the cooking process.
  • Jar your jam. Pour hot jam into a sterile jars with lids. Remove air bubbles on the sides of the jar by using a knife or chop stick. Jam should last for at least 4 weeks covered and refrigerated.

A Note from Lola

If you are making this delicious jam in large batches to preserve at home, you will need to follow the water canning process. Keep in mind that it will also take longer to cook down and thicken.

Nutrition

Serving: 24tablespoonCalories: 47kcalCarbohydrates: 12gProtein: 0.4gFat: 0.2gSaturated Fat: 0.02gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.04gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.03gSodium: 3mgPotassium: 42mgFiber: 1gSugar: 10gVitamin A: 56IUVitamin C: 11mgCalcium: 13mgIron: 0.2mg
47
LOVE THIS RECIPE?Leave a comment below or tag me on social media @lolascoina

Originally Published: February 24, 2017

Lola’s Cocina is a small business that earns various revenue streams. This includes sponsored posts and affiliate commissions from linked products, which I use and love, at no extra cost to readers. This income helps sustains the site. 

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Lola Wiarco Dweck

Lola is a Mexican-American recipe developer, writer, and cooking instructor who loves sharing her culture with the world. Growing up in California and spending summers in Mexico, Lola celebrates her family’s Mexican recipes and vibrant culture through Lola’s Cocina.

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4 Comments

  1. This jam looks and sounds divine! I’ve never eaten a kumquat before, but it seems like I’d be really good friends with Tío Nacho. Let me know if you decide to put this jam up to purchase on your Etsy store. 😉