Tag Archives: Fichi D’India

AUTUMN FRUIT Cumquats (Kumquats) and Quinces

I do like Cumquats and Quinces – both are Autumn fruit.

The photos were taken at my friends’ house in the south – east of South Australia. Each time that we are together we get productive in her kitchen.

My friend  likes to make preserves – cumquat and whisky marmalade, pickled cumquats and cumquats preserved in brandy. She also makes quince jelly and quince paste. On this particular weekend we used some of her abundant  autumn harvest.

She has the round shaped cumquats. The elongated variety of cumquats are much sweeter and are very good eaten fresh and whole . I like to eat both varieties raw and whole.

Here are photos of some of the methods used to make the cumquats in brandy or Cointreau or a mixture of both. Rum or Whisky is also good.

You could add some extra flavourings if you wish: cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice, star anise or glace or crystallized ginger.

The jars and lids will need to be sterilised. You may have your own way to this, for example:

  • Use the hot cycle in your dishwasher
  • cover them with hot water and boil them, for about 10 minutes
  • fill them with boiling water, place them on a baking tray lined with a tea towel and put them into a 110 C oven for about 15 minutes.

Although my friend had several kilos of cumquats, the recipe is based on using 1 kilo of cumquats.

You can use as much alcohol of your choice as you wish, for example a ratio of 3 cups of alcohol to 2 cups of water – adjust according to taste.  You will not necessarily know how much liquid you will need to cover the cumquats in the jars but you can always make more if you run out of the alcohol and water mixture.

Sugar – use 800g per kilo of fruit.

Use only whole fruit that are bright orange in color and have firm, undamaged skins. Make sure that they have stems.

Wash and dry them and remove the leaves. Leave the little green stems, then prick each one a couple of times with a thick needle.

Cover with water and bring them slowly to the boil. Simmer them uncovered for about 10 minutes – the must not collapse.

Drain them carefully and gently – they must remain whole. Reserve the water to use in the alcohol mixture.  Combine water with sugar, bring to the boil and boil for about 5 minutes. Take off the stove, add alcohol and mix well.

Place the fruit gently into the prepared jar. Add some spices or ginger among the cumquats if you wish. Top with the syrup. Do not crowd them too much as they may break. Cover with lids. Allow to stand for at least two weeks before using.

4 quinces,  cinnamon quills,  3  lemons, sliced,
About 200g sugar,
2 cups of water

I wiped the fuzz off the quinces and preheated my oven to 140C (fan-forced). I cut the quinces into quarters and sliced lemons and placed them in between the pieces of quinces.

Added sugar and water.

Covered them with foil and baked for at least 3 hours until quinces are soft and a rich red  – I removed the foil about 15 minutes before they finished cooking.

Jelly ( from the juices) in the left over quinces.

SEE EARLIER POSTS ON QUINCES (click on links):
A Tale about QUINCES
MOSTARDA e COTOGNATA ( Sicilian quince paste)
PRICKLY PEARS are also in season and can be made into a paste

CASABA (or CASSAVA) Melon and FICHI D’INDIA (Prickly pears)

In the photo is a casaba (or cassava) rock melon and I have bought it for the last two years from just one stall at the Queen Victoria Market. I am not sure of its correct name, but if it is casaba it could get its name from Kasaba, Turkey. It is very sweet and juicy and in comparison to rock melon it is rather large in size. The only other place that I have seen this type of melon is in the Willanga Farmers Market in South Australia; this is not to say that it is not sold elsewhere.

Maria and her husband Giuseppe are the stall holders. They are from Calabria and they tell me that this type of melon is also found in Calabria but they do not know what this variety is called. I have never seen it anywhere in Italy, but one needs to be in the right place at the right time.

Giuseppe tells me that the rock melons he sells are grown on the Hay Plains; the grower has an Italian surname.

Cassava rock melon is not to be confused with cassava – the taro, a tuber. Apparently there is also a cassava melon which is more like a watermelon and is the size and shape of a soccer ball; this variety has  a dark green skin.

I like to eat freshly cut slices of any rock melon; I have always loved to present it with sprigs of mint – both for decoration and to munch with it.

Some people make sorbet out of rock melon puree, lemon juice and some sugar syrup (I like it with honey) – recipes for this are not difficult to find and this too can be presented with mint.

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From Giuseppe and Maria I also buy my Fichi d’India (prickly pears) which are now in season.

I particularly enjoy this late summer produce.

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