Candied Kumquats or Mandarinquats

candied mandarinquats

I must confess to you I was never a big fan of kumquats, that is, until I was introduced to a very special tree. Not a kumquat tree exactly, but a mandarinquat tree, a cross between–you guessed it–mandarin and kumquat.

Kumquats are very fragrant, but the astringent skin and acidic flesh never did much for me. One bite into a mandarinquat from that tree, however, won me over entirely. I was seduced by the amazing fragrant and the astonishingly sweet rind. There was still a tang from the acidic flesh, but only just enough to add intrigue without being overwhelming. I ate handfuls after handfuls that day, right from the tree–like candy, albeit a very grown-up kind.

Besides being far more flavorful than regular kumquats, mandarinquats are also quite a bit prettier. Instead of the pale yellow skin and simple oblong shape of the kumquats, mandarinquats are rounder and more like a tear drop in shape, with deep orange, mandarin-like skin. I also find that mandarinquat’s rind is a bit thinner than kumquats.

I went up the hills to visit Gene at his fabled citrus grove this weekend, and of course I stopped by to say hi to the tree. It’s still bearing loads of fruits, but I knew the season was nearly over. I must do something to stretch it just a bit longer. So, I came home with a big bagful of mandarinquats and set out to candy them.


Candying kumquats or mandarinquats can be pretty quick and easy. You can just slice or chop the fruits and cook it in simple syrup until done. But what fun is quick and easy, huh? Sometimes I like doing things the most roundabout and difficult way possible. I like to candy my mandarinquats whole, keeping the beautiful shape and adding a little drama to whatever I serve them with–which can be quite a few things.

I like to serve one or two gorgeous, plump, and bright orange candied mandarinquats with a slice of bittersweet chocolate cake, spooning the citrusy syrup over the cake to add a lovely and sophisticated touch to an otherwise simple cake–a slice of pound cake works just as well, especially with a spoonful of freshly whipped cream. You can even serve a few of these candied fruits as a condiment on a cheese tray, or drop one or two on your morning yogurt. Don’t forget the lovely syrup as well. I use the syrup to make my own citrus soda, by just adding the syrup into sparkling water. Who needs to buy commercial soda full of all that yucky high-fructose corn syrup when you can make your own?

Well, I was kidding really about the "most roundabout and difficult way" I said earlier. Candying kumquats or these beautiful mandarinquats whole is not that hard: there are just a few tricks you need to know to keep the fruits in tact and beautifully plump, and the rest is a breeze. The most important thing is your kumquats or mandarinquats must be very fresh. Old, dried-out fruits will seize up like giant raisins, which won’t be very pretty at all. The second is you must cook them very slowly: heating things up too quickly might burst the fruits and you’ll end up with marmalade instead–not that there’s anything wrong with marmalades, mind you, they’re just not what you set out to do!


Candied mandarinquats (or kumquats)

1.5 kilo (about 3 pounds) of mandarinquats, rinsed and patted dry
6 cups of water
4 cups of sugar
a pinch of sea salt


Use a small needle, poke a couple holes into each mandarinquats.

Add all the ingredients into a large pot. Cut a piece of parchment paper the size of the diameter of the pot. Place the paper over the fruit and liquid, and put a plate or the lid of a smaller pot over the paper to hold down the fruits under the liquid.

Set the pot on the stove over medium high heat. When the water begins to bubble, getting close to boiling, turn the heat down to simmer and continue to cook for two hours.

At the end of the two hours, the mandarinquats should be deep orange and completely translucent. Remove from heat, discard the plate and the parchment paper. Skim off any bubble or scum. Close the lid and let the fruits steep in the syrup overnight or at least 6 hours.

The next morning, use a slotted spoon to remove the fruits from the pot into a bowl. Set the pot back on the stove over high heat and cook until reduced by half, about 15-30 minutes. When the syrup is reduced to the consistency you like, turn the heat off, and gently add the candied fruits back into the pot. Bring the content of the pot back to a boil once again and turn the heat off.

At this point you can just fill the candied fruits and syrup into clean jars. They will keep in the fridge for a long time. If you want to make them shelf-stable, use canning or mason jars and follow the manufacture’s instruction to properly sterilize and seal the jars.

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23 Responses to “Candied Kumquats or Mandarinquats

  • Tiuscha said:
    March 18th, 2008 at 3:25am

    I love them, you can also put a little cognac.. delicious ! (recipe on my blog)

  • anticiplate said:
    March 18th, 2008 at 8:30am

    I like your idea of serving these candied kumquats with a piece of chocolate cake. It would be a lovely presentation.

  • missginsu said:
    March 18th, 2008 at 11:33am

    I love those jars! They’re so retro-cute.
    My chef always had me make a terrific kumquat chutney recipe that we served alongside spiced, roasted quail. I’d love to try that out with mandarinquats. I’m so jealous of your fresh citrus hookup.
    I’ll see if I can dig up the instructions and scale ’em down for home use…

  • Christine said:
    March 18th, 2008 at 11:34pm

    I recently came across mandarinquats and I agree – they’re more interesting than the usual kumquat varieties. Their deep orange color is also great. I recently used them to make a variation on vin d’orange and I’m hoping they’ll lend their sweet flavor to the wine. If I can get a hold of more of these here in Michigan, I’ll definitely try this recipe. I must say also – I do adore those lovely german weck jars 🙂

  • marion said:
    March 18th, 2008 at 11:58pm

    Looks wonderful. Indio mandarinquats are so good, I eat them before I get around to preserving them.

  • schnauzie said:
    March 19th, 2008 at 12:58am

    Hi, I am a frequent reader of your blog and is relying on it to plan my food trip to spain and france next month. Not sure if you know, but your blog has been featured as One of the World’s 50 most powerful blog!

  • faustianbargain said:
    March 19th, 2008 at 8:56am

    really nice, pim. the skin of this fruit must be rather thin! because you are pricking them, they wont burst. additionally, it will also help if you skewer the fruit from one end, but not all the way through to the other side…
    p.s. 2.2 lbs = 1 kg. 1.5 kg = 3.3 lbs

  • foodaq said:
    March 19th, 2008 at 6:55pm

    That looks so good!
    Thanks to share with us.And your blog has been featured!

  • Pim said:
    March 20th, 2008 at 1:11am

    Cognac in this sounds like a delicious idea.
    Orange and chocolate are great together. I just love them.
    Miss Ginsu,
    please scale your recipe and send me the link!
    The Weck jars are great. I must reorder now that I’ve used them all up. I think I’ll get another picking or two of the mandarinquats yet, so I might do more before the end of the season.
    a little self control, please!
    Thanks, I saw that. It’s a rather odd list but it’s always great to be included, of course.
    miz faust,
    I fixed my math. Thanks.

  • Fred said:
    March 22nd, 2008 at 8:42pm

    Love ur blog. I made the candied kumquats and follwed receipe exactly. All the kumquats deflated and looked like raisins. What did I do wrong?

  • shuna fish lydon said:
    March 24th, 2008 at 8:56am

    oooh a pesky leetle question from me– I find that the mandarinquats have really big seeds. When all is said and done from your method are the seeds a noticeable detraction in your mouth or do they just become part of the mix, like okra?
    or better– do you end up eating everything and not noticing the seeds because they get slowly candied as well?
    (may I also point your people to my series of mandarinquat portraits?)

  • Rebecca said:
    March 24th, 2008 at 4:19pm

    So pretty! With the Weck jars-how do they seal properly? Or should they just be used for preserves-things to be used fairly quickly?

  • Pim said:
    March 25th, 2008 at 1:24am

    @Fred, perhaps your kumquats were a little old? Dry, old kumquats will seize up like raisins, and there’s not much you could do about it. Sorry.
    @Shuna, of course you may point people to your beautiful shots of mandarinquats. Sorry I forgot to link to them in the post.
    As for the seeds, for some reason these mandarinquats don’t have that many seeds. I’ve eaten a few that had them, and was never bothered by them. I spat out a couple big, big ones but the rest I just ate them. I was lucky with this batch, I guess.
    @Rebecca, you’re right, the only problem with the Weck jars is that they don’t reseal well after you open a preserved jar. I usually use the metal clips that come with the kit to keep the lid on the jar after it’s been opened. It works ok but only for a short time as things dry out quickly. They are so pretty though, I keep buying and using them because they are just so precious. Nothing is perfect I suppose.

  • maryeats said:
    March 31st, 2008 at 10:28am

    I just tried these recently and was surprised at how tasty they were too. Candying appears to be a lovely way of keeping these beauties on hand through the spring and summer. Thanks for a great idea!

  • erica said:
    April 3rd, 2008 at 10:53pm

    It looks so delicious.I am going to make one following your recipe…goodluck to me!
    I love your blog.

  • dan said:
    April 26th, 2008 at 12:42am

    A little Googling suggests that little plastic freshness lids (Frischhaltedeckel) for the Weck jars are available — and inexpensively — in Germany. Maybe the importer here carries them?
    Wonderful blog, really enjoying reading it 🙂

  • jennifer said:
    October 16th, 2008 at 12:42pm

    I made preserves for the first time ever using the weck jars. it was so much fun and easier than expected. I made apple preserves with cloves and fresh ginger, I used mesquite honey to make the sugar syrup.
    Glaushaus does carry the snap on lids, which are very affordable.
    Thank you for the inspiration pim. I love this blog.

  • Corie said:
    December 30th, 2009 at 10:03am

    I have a small tree that is loaded with mandarinquats and my husband wants to cut it down because we don’t know what to do with the fruit. I am going to try the candying mentioned above. I would also love to try the chutney recipe that missginsu mentioned. How can I obtain that recipe? Is this blog still active?

  • gary said:
    September 6th, 2010 at 9:54am

    Anybody know where I can find these mandarinquats?? thanks

    • Anthony said:
      December 10th, 2013 at 12:37am

      63th Dr. Rego Park New York

  • Large Pot said:
    November 16th, 2010 at 9:29am

    Just came and read, this is wow! I was seek from many blogs, but here is the best, I love it.

  • Homemade canning said:
    January 30th, 2011 at 10:18am

    Consistency of the homemade sauce base is one of the main things that you should be looking at when considering making your own BBQ sauce. You want to avoid the base from being too runny or too thick, and this is one of the reasons why using a suitable ketchup is a great place to start experimenting because it gives you a little less to think about initially and will allow you to let your creative juices flow as you consider and use the ingredients that will make up your sauce.

  • Cl8onb said:
    March 15th, 2012 at 5:31pm

    Your recipe makes perfect sense to me.  I have preserved other fruits, so have some experience.  I am going to do some kumquats your way.   And maybe find a mandarinsquat tree in out local nursery to plant in our backyard ‘orchard’.  Thanks for the posting.   Clayton.

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