Saturday, October 20, 2012

Urban foraging

The other day Miss B. and I went to visit friends who live on the other side of the lake. (In Canberra parlance, this is hell and gone far away, even though it’s only about a 15-minute drive.) While there, we went out to admire their garden, which is bursting into all kinds of bloom now that spring is getting a firm grip on the weather. C. indicated a row of small trees.

“Those are covered with cumquats,” she pointed out. “Want some? Otherwise they’re just going to sit there and rot. I don’t know what to do with them.”

She didn’t have to ask twice. I went inside, got a bag, and proceeded to strip every branch clean. Miss B. even gave me a hand. As you can see from the picture, we got a pretty good haul, and the next day I got to work processing them. I peeled them, then put the insides through a food mill. The insides produced a frothy, juicy pulp, and I put the peels in the food processor with some sugar. All of these results are still sitting in my fridge, waiting for further inspiration to strike.

At first I had thought of making marmalade, but then remembered that I’m not a huge marmalade fan (even though it was my first jam-making project). At the moment I’m pondering making cumquat-cello (ie a variant of limoncello), or cumquat curd. Or maybe both - as I said, I've got quite a haul. (Got any other ideas? I’m open to suggestion.) In the meantime, I’ve been pouring the juice/pulp (julp?) into my weekend cocktail for a variation on my typical favorite vodka & lemonade.

Because ‘CVF’ sounds more like a respectable adult beverage than ‘Cumquat Vodka Fizz’. These cumquats more closely resemble tiny, very tart oranges than those I’ve encountered before (which resemble tiny, very bitter lemons). If you don’t have any windfall cumquats handy, swap in citrus of your choice and adjust sweetening to taste.

1 shot/1.5 oz/45 ml vodka
2 Tbsp/1 oz/30 ml cumquat julp
1 Tbsp/.5 oz/15 ml simple syrup
5 oz/150 ml fizzy water

Fill an 8 oz/240 ml drinking glass halfway with ice, then add drink ingredients. Stir to combine.

Makes 1 tart, citrusy, fizzy cocktail.


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