Kumquat Vodka

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.

41 Replies to “Kumquat Vodka”

  1. Sissi, are you as adventurous with other things in life as you are when it comes to food? I admire that in people, and really strive to do better with myself!

    Kumquats are pretty abundant in my area, since there’s a large Asian population at Houston. Though I would have to say it’s not one of my favorite fruits, since the sourness is really difficult for my taste buds to handle. But I am very interested to find out how your infused vodka turns out, please keep me updated!

    1. Jeno, you are so sweet 🙂 Actually food and drink are the only parts of my life where I’m sometimes adventurous 🙁
      After having had several raw kumquats I totally understand why you don’t like them. They were very interesting to discover, but I will never buy them only to eat raw, even though I like slightly acid food (they were much too acid).

      1. Sissy,

        if you like Seville oranges they make a fabulous marmelade. Also check out the June issue of quill and parchment dot com for a drink I call Canton Cooler made with vodka marinated kumquats and Moscato.

        1. Hi Sharmagne, thank you for the advice. Seville oranges aren’t easy to get here alas. I see them in certain years in my organic shop only and for a short period, but last winter I somehow missed them… The drink sounds great!

  2. Magic word! Vodka! I’ve never tried using kumquats for anything … yet. I so love to eat them as they are, there’s never enough or any left to make anything. Sounds heavenly tho, Kumquat Vodka. And Mandarin peel vodka? Hmm … another great idea. I’ve only made jam out of mandarins and some non-alcoholic juice/punch/desserts. The only alcoholic infusion I’ve tried my hand at is Limoncello … in vodka, of course 😀 I’m going to get more kumquats to make this …. wait, let me rephrase that … TRY make this. Must stop myself from eating the fruits.

    1. Thank you, Ping. The mandarin peel vodka is fantastic! I hope this one will be good too. Your kumquats must be sweeter than mine, because even as a tart and/or acid food fan I couldn’t eat more than a couple of them. They were as acid inside as a lemon. The peel was delicious though. (On the other hand mine were grown in the South of France I think… so maybe the taste is worse?).

      1. They are quite sweet actually, rather like an orange but with an edible peel. The unripe ones are sour but after leaving them for a couple of days, they turn a deeper orange and get sweeter. I love them … if only there weren’t so many pips.

        1. Thank you for this precious information. I am a total ignorant in what comes to kumquats and since I read eveywhere that they were acid inside I assumed they never got sweeter… I will update the post!

  3. Sissi, I feel like I’m learning so much from your blog! I’ve never tried kumquats, and I’ve never infused my own vodka — although I have made my own vanilla extract by adding vodka to several vanilla beans. I’d like to try the mandarin peel infused vodka sometime. You also have lots of tips for using up leftovers (the mandarin peels and left over puff pastry for your last-minute crackers!)

    1. Thank you, Barb, for the compliments! I have never made my own vanilla extract. I must ask you for tips one day 🙂 I am glad you find some leftovers recipes useful. Mandarin peel vodka is one of the greatest ways to use what most people throw away. It’s also very easy and versatile (it can be made into a sweet liqueur or a dry vodka), so I hope you try it one day.

  4. Love these fun Friday drink posts Sissi and what a pretty photo too – full of life and colour! I don’t drink vodka but suddenly you’ve got me thinking of kumquat margaritas… hee.hee! Thanks for the inspiration and have a great weekend :).

    1. Hi Kelly, thank you for the compliments. I don’t really drink vodka either, but I use it often in cocktails and most of the infused vodkas I have made, even when they are strong, are simply addictive and have got nothing to do with the artificially aromatised ones. I sip them from very small glasses.

    1. Thank you so much for the compliment. I’m very curious, but I have several older infused vodkas to cheer myself up with in the meantime 🙂

  5. I’ve seen Kumquats at the market, but never tried them before…but Vodka is a favorite and I’m sure the infusion of the Kumwuats must take the flavors up a notch (or many notches:)) Great photos!

  6. My grandpa’s garden has kumquats and I have a fond memory of eating them with him when I was small. I was going to make a Japanese dish that requires kumquats and I am actually in the middle of search. This drink must be very refreshing! Have a good weekend Sissi! Don’t get sick like me~~~!

    1. Kumquat childhood memories… It sounds so exotic 😉 Can you imagine someone who has tasted kumquats only this year? I’m looking forward to read about the Japanese kumquat dish! I hope you feel better soon. Have a lovely weekend too.

  7. Wow, I have never heard of vodka with kumquats, sounds interesting!! There is this Chinese drink with preserved kumquat which I like, but I don’t know how to make it. It’s especially refreshing in summer because you drink it cold.

    1. Thank you, CG, I have never heard about it either before I had the crazy idea to infuse vodka with it 😉 I have read somewhere about the Chinese way of preserving kumquat. I must try it maybe one day.

  8. Oh, I love the idea of homemade citrus infused vodkas! So fun! I use kumquats mainly as a garnish, but you’ve also given me another great option 🙂

  9. Dear Sissi!
    I knew you were going to publish an article on a drink!
    Would you believe I actually had a kumquat cocktail almost like yours at Botanical two nights ago!
    I will check the recipe for you!
    Great work as usual!
    Best regards,

    1. Bonjour, Robert-Gilles! Thank you for the compliment and for visiting. I would be very grateful to see the kumquat cocktail recipe.
      I still am not sure how the vodka will taste after the whole infusing process stops. This is the most exciting part of infusing vodka for the first time, but one never knows what the result will be…

  10. How actually does one eat a kumquat as it is? Do you just stick the whole thing in your mouth, like a grape? It’s been a long time since I had kumquats – I made a kumquat and guava cheesecake many years ago, when I was about 14 years old. I can’t really remember how they tasted, but I can remember that I enjoyed the dish, so they must have been good 😀

    As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t drink too much, but I like the occasional tipple and I was thinking maybe I might try and do something like this in 2012… maybe with gin. I love how pretty and colourfil your vodka looks Sissi – the fruits are so vibrant!!

    1. Hi Charles. Thank you for the compliment! I hope the taste is as good as the colour 🙂 Actually, yes, you simply eat kumquats as grapes. (Especially when you find organic ones). I am impressed: you made very ambitious cakes as a teenager!
      Gin can sometimes be very good, but from my experience sometimes it is too violent (although it loses the juniper aroma). Vodka’s first quality is the lack of taste and this is why I infuse most fruits in vodka (or in a mixture of 90% alcohol and water).

      1. Hi Sissi, thanks for your reply – the problem is – I find vodka such an aggressive drink… For me it has few enjoyable qualities… very rough on the throat. I tend to enjoy things which have quite a bit of sweetness…. tell me, after you’ve added 200g of sugar and left it to infuse for sometime, does it still seem “vodka-y”? I mean, can you still easily identify that it is actually vodka?

        1. Charles, now I wonder if the violent taste of gin in some infusions I made isn’t due to its low quality. From what I saw in France it’s cheaper to buy good quality vodka than gin (Wyborowa or Sobieski are quite good and cheap). It would be funny if you tried doing the same with gin and we could compare our results!

        2. Oh, and you cannot feel vodka smell or taste in any of the infusions I have made (unless you make them very strong, with diluted 90% alcohol, then the alcohol aroma might be quite strong). Same goes for gin: it loses “ginnish” aroma.

  11. I don’t think I have tried kumquat. I almost confused it with another exotic fruit you mention (Turkish origin, larger than kumquat, more tasteless…:)
    Next time I get my hands on lots of cheap vodka I will definitely start infusing

        1. Oh, I thought it was only in Norway and Finland! Maybe it was quince, but it does have a lot of taste although it’s impossible to eat raw (very sour). I don’t remember if it has origins in Turkey. It grows all over Europe.

  12. Wow, what a great idea to make kumquat infused vodka! This sounds really delicious, and it is not difficult to make at all. I would love to try this one day, so I will be saving this recipe! Thanks so much for this wonderful idea and recipe!!

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