After Seville orange, kumquat is my second fruit discovery of this year and kumquat vodka is my first infused vodka in 2012. Kumquat is not what I would call a popular fruit in Europe. Even though it has been sold in supermarkets for several years, its price is usually very discouraging and its use is mainly restricted to fancy restaurants and confectioners. Kumquat is native to Asia and its name comes from the Cantonese word meaning “golden orange”, but now it is grown on other continents too. For those who haven’t tasted it, kumquat has a size of a big olive, it has a thin, surprisingly sweet peel and contrastingly sour flesh and juice. Apparently (thank you, Ping, for this precious information!) they get sweeter if left to fully ripen, but mine were probably used too quickly…
When I bought a bag of reasonably priced, organic kumquats, the first thing I did was eating some of them raw, but I also wanted to experiment at least with a cocktail. Since the fruits were not very juicy and it was a pity to discard the edible peel, I quickly decided to make a kumquat-infused vodka. I have been infusing vodkas (and sometimes gin) for over a year now and I encourage everyone to try doing it. From my short experience I can say disappointments are very rare and the pleasure of serving or offering home-made liquor to friends and family is immense. The process of infusing alcohol is also a bit magical, because the taste usually changes with time (in general it improves), so something which appears as a complete failure may turn into a surprisingly good beverage after a year. For those who want to start to experiment, I would advise Mandarin Peel Vodka which is not only one of the quickest to prepare (it takes only 16 days before it’s ready to drink), but it allows us to use up mandarin peel. My last year’s Mandarin Peel Vodka is so delicious, I’m making a second batch this year.
Since this is my first kumquat vodka, I have no idea how it will taste, but I think that sweet peel and acid juice might give an interesting beverage. I will update this post after the first tasting. I have based the below recipe on my Mandarin Peel Vodka and combined it with methods and advice found on different forums.
TIP: Infused vodkas usually improve with time, so if you don’t like the taste. Put the bottle into a cupboard and taste it once more after a couple of months. Even if it tastes great, reserve some for later and observe how the taste changes. It’s best to “forget” about the vodkas for some time and put them somewhere where they are not visible every day.
Preparation: about 1 1/2 month minimum
300 g kumquats
500 ml vodka (or 250 ml 90% alcohol diluted with 170 ml boiled and cooled water and then kept together for two days in a jar before infusing)
100 g sugar (or the double if you like sweet alcohols)
Wash the kumquats, discard the green twigs and cut the fruits into quarters or slices.
Put them in a big jar or wide-mouthed bottle and cover with the vodka or the mixture of 90% alcohol and water.
Leave the tightly closed jar in room temperature for a month.
After a month drain the fruit and reserve the infused alcohol in a closed jar or bottle.
Put back the fruits into the jar and cover with the sugar.
Shake the jar every day so that the sugar dissolves easier.
When the sugar has completely dissolved (after a couple of days), pour the reserved vodka over the fruit and syrup mixture and leave it to infuse once more for seven days.
Afterwards filter it into a bottle (for example through a coffee paper filter or a piece of gauze plied in 4).
The vodka can be drunk straight away, but it should improve with time, so taste it every month and observe the taste and aroma changes.