Sweet & sour: spicy cumquat chutney

August 27, 2009

cumquatsInspired by Fiona’s comment about Indian food yesterday, plus the fact we had been given two kilos of beautiful Killcare cumquats by our friends the Nannas of Naremburn, I messed around with a few chutney recipes and came up with this spicy Indian-style cumquat chutney.

I began with the recipe for spiced kumquat chutney here, and then made a few variations based on what I had in the cupboards, and by flipping back and forth through Stephanie Alexander’s orange book to check out her pickled cumquat, her mango chutney (p733) and her peach chutney (p519).

Mine turned out a little sweeter than I would’ve liked, but adjusting the sweetness with plenty of salt and a little lime juice I think I’ve ended up with a lovely thick, sweet Indian-style chutney with a nice note of gingery heat. To those of you who’ll find a jar on their doorsteps, just don’t use too much at once! It’s quite tart as well, but the cumquat fruit itself has a nice slightly bitter edge …

cumquat chutneyThe original recipe called for currants; I had only a handful of currants in the larder but lots of barberries, the tart little rubies I found on our Persian excursion the other week, so I threw them in instead, which doubtless bumped up the sour/tart factor.  I also threw in some cardamom pods, cinnamon, whole cloves and star anise. Anyhoo, if you’re game and have heaps of ready cumquats on your conscience, try it out. I take no responsibility for the outcome, though!

Sweet & spicy cumquat chutney

  • 2kg cumquats, halved or quartered (it’s good to get the seeds out now, but if you can’t be bothered, it is possible to scoop them out later with a slotted spoon – bit laborious either way, but the latter is more meditative…)
  • 3-4 cups sugar
  • 1.5 cups orange juice
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • 5 star anise
  • pinch of whole cloves
  • 1 cup currants or half currants and half barberries
  • 1 large knob ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 birdseye chillies, chopped
  • a teaspoon or two dried chilli flakes, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons salt (or more, to taste)
  • (optional) juice 1 lime

jarschutneyThrow everything but the lime juice into a heavy-based saucepan, reserving a little of the sugar and salt until you taste it at the end.

Stir over heat until sugar has dissolved and chutney has come to boiling point. Boil steadily for an hour or so, until the chutney reduces and becomes thick.

Adjust seasoning with sugar and salt, then bottle into sterilised jars.

This quantity made eight small to medium jars of chutney.


  1. Cumquats intimidate me. I think it’s that abrasive name. But that chutney looks and sounds delicious, Charlotte. I love a good chutney with Indian food, not to mention as part of a cheese and/or charcuterie plate. Cue more dribbling down chin.

  2. […] link to the unquestionably good Manfield eggplant pickle here, and this rather sour half-invented cumquat chutney, that […]

  3. A delicious little chutney that will no doubt disappear very quickly from the pantry shelf. Thanks heaps!

  4. So what do you do with the lime juice?

    • whoops! I forgot to add that! You just chuck it in at the end John, if you’re using it. Sorry about that.

      • I have made this gorgeous chutney time and time again. I have shared the recipe with dozens of my friends. Today, with a total lack of cumquats I’m making it with dried cranberries, dried figs, currants and ginger. All other ingredients are per the original recipe. I do add a bottle of verjuice but not sure if it really improves the final brew. Thank you for such a beaut creation. I usually serve it with baked ham.

        • Oh, thank you Jude! I love that you have made your own thing out of it, which after all is how all recipes come about. I like the sound of yours better I must say, and am going to give it a crack soon. Thanks!

    • It’s pretty blimmin sour though from memory so you might not need it …

      • It’s on the stove now so we’ll see how we go. But I do like it sour and our home grown cumquats are not too sour as they have been left on the tree till the last minute to pick. Nice bright orange.

  5. Thank you for this recipe, it’s delicious and goes brilliantly with cold pork. Until now I’ve always viewed my cumquat tree as ornamental but no longer!

  6. Excellent chutney thanks for sharing your recipe! I had plenty from my neighbor the other day. I only used dried chilli flakes 2.5tsp and no currants as I didn’t have any. I adjudted the sweetness at the end and the lime juice at the end brought it to another level.
    By the way in your ingredients list I didn’t see you listing cardamom pods and I didn’t put any. Now reading your story agsin I can see you used some? Anyhow it turned out to be very nice!

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